Help for Scam Victims at the Holidays

It is that time of year again, when we here at join together to help out others effected by these scams. This is a great way for those who have been victims and are now financially stable again to help out those who have just recently been hit by these scams.



This is something that is VERY special to my husband and myself since we became scam victims just before the holidays in 2002, and if it were not for the support of family and friends, it could have been a much different Christmas for us and our two children.



We call it our “Secret Santa Program” and here is how it works –

If you are a parent who has recently been hit by a scam and is now wondering how you are going to provide Christmas gifts for you child, please send a private message to me with the subject “Dear Santa” and in it list the ages of your children and one gift that they would like to see from Santa this year, along with your complete mailing address.  (Please remember that this is supposed to be for small children who still believe in the magic of Santa)



Everyone else that visits this site, if you would like to help to make Christmas better for one child, or one family, please send me a private message with the subject “Santa’s Helper” and I will then forward you the information of one family that needs help this year. Please only contact me if you plan of following through . . . this could be the ONLY gift that some of these children get this year!



And on a final note, if you do not wish to do either of these, we are looking to get official non-profit status in 2009, and we here at would be happy to accept any donations that will help us in this, and help to keep this site up and running and helping so many people. If you would like to make a donation to this cause, please email/private message me for information on where to send your donations.



If anyone has any questions, on any of this, feel free to email/private message me.

More emails from the scammers

Here is one I got in my email box today . . .


From: Charles Ndube <

From Williams Adams (ESQ) verification no: (PX002)

Good Day!

I have been waiting for you since to come down here and pick your Cashiers
Cheque but did not hear from you since that time. So i went to the bank to
confirm if the draft is getting close to expire and the Manager of the bank
told me that before the draft will get to your address that it will expire.
Then I told him to help me and cash the bank draft of $1.5 million to cash

However, The Bank Manager have successfully cashed the draft and packaged
your Cash in a Diplomatic Cargo box and had registered it in the FEDEX
EXPRESS COURIER COMPANY here in Benin Republic because i am travelling to
see my boss and will not come back soon.

You have to contact FEDEX EXPRESS COURIER COMPANY to know when they will
deliver your package to your address.

CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS: +229-9389-0644 /+229-9859-3363/+22996036772
E-MAIL: <>

Please, Send them your contacts information to able them locate you
immediately they arrived in your country with your Diplomatic BOX.

This is the information they need from you.

soon as possible to enable them release your consignment to you. I gave them
your delivering address but you have to reconfirm it to them again to avoid
any mistake in the delivery.

I have paid for the delivering charges. Also ask them how much the
insurance fees will cost you.  The only money you have to send to them is
their INSURANCE FEE to receive your package which will be a token. I could
have paid for the insurance fees, but due to some prevailing circumstance
beyond my control.

Note; I didn’t tell FEDEX EXPRESS COURIER COMPANY that it’s money inside the
box, I registered it as a package of an African cloths/Family Valuables. 
This is to avoid delaying or any upfront problem during the delivery, So do
not let them  know that the package contents money inside until you have
received it in your house address, this is the code which you will send to
them for verifications (PX002).

Do let me know as soon as you received your package. Contact me by email as
i am travelling out side the country today.

Best Regards,
Williams Adams (ESQ)

Is this a scam?

I have been sent thousands of emails over the years, where people ask me if I think that it is a scam or not.  
If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then the situation that you are involved in is a scam!

Did you receive the check/money order from selling an item online, such as a car, boat, jewelry, etc.?
Is the amount of the check/money order more that the item’s selling price?
Did you receive the check/money order via an overnight delivery service (not the US postal system)?
Is the check drawn on a business or individual account that is different from the person buying your item or product?
Have you been informed that you have won a lottery in another country?
Have you been instructed to wire, send or ship money as soon as possible?
Have you been asked to pay money to receive a deposit from another country?
Are you receiving pay or commission for facititating money transfers through your account?
Did you respond to an email requesting you to confirm, update or provide bank or credit card account information?
Are you sending/wiring money to someone that you met on the internet, never in person, who needs your help to get through hard times (relative died, someone is in the hospital, etc.) and they promise to pay you back as soon as they can?

Some of the popular scams out there now are
Romance/Dating scam, so do not wire money to anyone that you have met on an internet dating site
Roommate Scams, so do not wire money to anyone sends you a check/money order for rent fees
Secret Shopper Scams, so do not wire money to anyone claiming to be giving you a job as a secret shopper
Lottery Scams, so do not wire any money to people claiming you have won money

Woman loses $400,000 to Nigerian E-Mail Scam

A story made the news recently about a woman in Oregon who lost $400,000 to a Nigerian E-Mail scam.  It was the old fashion 419/Advance Fee Scam.  To read the entire story, you can go here,2933,453125,00.html

The thing I found interesting about this story is the fact that she said that the name of the long lost relative in the email actually matched a name of a relative in her family . . . often the 419 Scam emails will just have a random name and they tell you that they have found that you are a relative to this person, but for the most part it is not a name that is familiar to you.

It is sad that her family tried to stop her from sending the money.  Bank officials even warned her of the scam.  So why did she keep sending money?  I think that with the 419/Advance Fee Scams the entire thing becomes like an addiction for some people . . . much like gambling . . . people can tell them the “odds” but they are still holding on that they could “hit the big one”.  It is this hope that keeps the person going back to the scam, and as you can see by this story, it sometimes means that the person will be out hundreds of thousands of dollars before they will be able to clearly see that there is no truth behind the story the scammers are feeding them.

What to do when you become a victim of a scam

Once you realize that you have become a victim of an internet scam, such as a counterfeit money order or counterfeit cashier’s check scam, there are some things that you can do to try and help your case.

Things To Do:

  • Close any other accounts that you have at that bank so they cannot freeze those accounts
  • Turn off any direct deposits you have going into that account
  • Turn off any automatic payments or withdrawals you have coming out of that account
  • Open an account at another bank
  • Contact the money wiring service that you used.  If the money has not yet been picked up by anyone, there is a chance that they can still stop the wire transfer.

I would suggest writing a detailed letter including all of the facts, dates and times, and names and addresses, that tells your story.  You can then use this one letter to submit or send your complaint to the places listed.

This information can also be found at’s_check.htm

Can we catch the scammers?

I get asked on a regular basis, how can we catch these scammers, and the truth is there is no good answer to that.  So far we have not found a way to catch these guys because they are in Nigeria and it would have to be the government and law enforcement over there that would have to do something about it.  We have seen a few arrests since the time we started our site, but not enough to stop the problem. 

What we have found that has helped is to report this scam to the website where you had your item listed for sale and ask them post a warning on their site that would help save others from this scam.  Social networking sites are also a great way to spread the word.  Tell everyone you know about this scam. 

Report the scam to the email provider that the scammer is using and tell them that you know that the email account of is being used by scammers; they may shut down the email account.

Then, contact your Attorney General’s office and local media and tell them about it.  Some have held press conferences to send out a warning to the entire state about this scam.

So for now, the odds of the person who scammed you being arrested and put in jail are slim, but if we cannot get them arrested let’s make sure that they don’t get as much business!  Education is really the key to stopping these scams.  Tell everyone that you know . . . you could end up saving someone from becoming a victim.

Banking Terms – Not as “clear” as they should be.

One thing that I found out after becoming a scam victim is that the terms that banks use are words that give the customers a false sense of security.  Here are a few things about banking terms that you should know.

What “Clear” really means:
“The check has cleared” does not mean the money in your account belongs to you. It only means that the clearing house has not sent the draft back for non-sufficient funds, closed account, or flag instructions on the account. It does not mean the draft was written by the account holder.

Depending on the size or purpose of the account, the account holder may not notice the absence of funds for several days after the draft has reached his bank. In fact, an account holder may have up to one full year to report an unauthorized draft.

Bank statements are usually sent out on the 1st or 15th of the month. If the transaction took place near one of those dates, the account holder may be unaware of the unauthorized transaction until statements are sent out the following month and time is taken to balance the statement.

The problem . . . when a customer brings a cashier’s check or money order from someone that they do not know into the bank, and the bank tells them that it is “cleared” (some times after only 24 hours) it gives the customer a false sense of security that they can spend/use that money, but this is not the case.  If a problem comes up with this document, the bank will come back to the customer and demand that they refund the entire amount.

What “Available funds” really means:
“Available funds” does not mean the money in your account belongs to you, even if a hold has been taken off the draft.

When you deposit a check into your bank account, your bank advances you the money for that check to keep the wheels of commerce moving. Of the millions and millions of checks processed every day, a relatively small number are returned because of a problem; because of this, banks and credit unions must automatically credit depositor accounts within a certain number of days.

A bank or credit union can make an exception to the rule and wait for a longer period of time on any given deposit before crediting the depositor account, but apart from such an exception the credit is automatic.  Again, this wording gives the customer a false sense of security about the authenticity of the document in question.

This credit to your account is called a “provisional loan” and is actually a no-signature loan from your bank to you. It does not mean that your bank has been credited by the account holder bank.  If your bank HAS extended you a “provisional loan” and you normally had a very low account balance, or had been the type of customer who would be denied a loan if you apply for one with your bank, you should know that their are some scam victims who have fought back against their banks using this as their case. 

The only time the money in your account really belongs to you is when the check or money order has been HONORED, meaning your bank has been credited (paid) by the account holder bank.

ALWAYS ask your bank if the draft has been honored and DO NOT TOUCH THE MONEY until it has.

When in doubt about a draft, tell your bank to send the draft for COLLECTION.

Some banks are starting to use the terms “The check is pending” when the money has been deposited into the account, but the check has not yet been honored.

Sending a draft for Collection:
When you send a draft for Collection, it means that your bank or credit union will not put any money in your account until the draft has been paid, i.e. your bank has received the credit from the account holder bank.

Your bank or credit union will charge you a fee and give you an approximate time before the draft is honored. This time period may be as long as 6 to 8 weeks depending on the location of the account holder bank.

Some banks and credit unions will provide the collection service even if you do not have an account with them, so long as you pay the service charge.

Fraud Alert

A while ago I wrote a letter that I sent out to several banks, asking them to assist in fighting scams by posting a Fraud Alert at their teller windows.  Below is that letter, and I have attached a pdf of the Fraud Alert.  Feel free to ask YOUR bank to join the fight by posting this information.


My name is Shawn Mosch, and I am the Co-Founder of the website, which my husband and I started in 2003 after we became victims of a counterfeit cashier’s check scam.  Since that time, we have worked with agencies like the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Consumer’s League and the Federal Trade Commission to help educate the public about the growing problem of scams in this country.  In the first two years of operation, our website helped to stop over 2 million dollars from going into the hands of scammers.

Now, we are joining up with the FBI to distribute a Fraud Alert to banks that can be displayed at all teller stations.  We believe that this Fraud Alert will help get the message to the people that need it the most.  It is our hope that you will join us in educating people and warning them by posting this Fraud Alert at the teller stations at all of your bank locations.  We feel that this will not only help to prevent your customers from becoming victims, but it will also show them that you are looking out for them and have their best interest in mind. 

We have the Fraud Alert available in a pdf format on our website, or if you would like we would be more than happy to send it to you via email.  If you choose to download it from our website, it can be found at the bottom of the “Latest News” page. 

I would like to thank you in advance for your assistance.  I know that together we can help to save even more people from becoming victims of these scams. 


Shawn Mosch joins forces with the FBI joins forces with the FBI

419 scam vs Counterfeit Check Scam

Over the years I have had many people ask me what is the difference between a 419/Advance Fee Scam and a Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam, so I listed out some of the differenecs here. 

Initial Contact –
419 Scam
People are contacted out of the blue by the scammers.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam
People have placed an ad somewhere on the internet to sell an item, so they are expecting to receive emails from people they do not know in response to this ad.

Personal Information –
419 Scam
The scammer asks for your bank account information in order to transfer a large amount of money out of the country and into your account.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam
The scammer asks for your name and mailing address so that they can send you a cashier’s check for payment and transportation of the item you are selling.

How you loose money –
419 Scam
Scammer tells you that there are fees that have to be paid before the money can be transferred and you are to pay them.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam
When you get the check from the scammer and bring it to the bank they tell you that the check is good, or that it has cleared.  Feeling assured by this information, you take the portion of the check that was supposed to be for transportation and wire it to the appropriate people.  Then, days later the bank notifies you that the check was counterfeit and that you are liable for the money that you took out, even though the only reason you took it out was because they had assured you that the check was good.

Victims –
419 Scam
While they may not know that it is illegal, they do know that the situation that they are entering into is one is which they will receive a large amount of money for assisting someone else, and that it will not be a lot of work on their part.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam
Innocent people who were just trying to sell items that they no longer want or need on the internet, and who trusted the word of their banks when they told them that the check was good, some of which are now facing criminal charges because not enough banks and law enforcement agencies are educated on this scam.

For more information on these scams you can go to
or our website