Secret Shopper Scams and Re-Victimization Scams on the rise.

For Immediate Release
 
The current economic situation is causing a strain on many people, and scammers are cashing in on it.  There has been an increase in Secret Shopper Scams and Re-Victimization Scams in recent months. 
 
Unsuspecting people answer ads placed online for Secret Shoppers or Mystery Shoppers, thinking that this will be a great way for them to earn some extra income to help make ends meet.  They are sent official looking letters and forms, and instructed that they will be sent a Cashier’s Check or Money Order by the company that they are working for, and they will use that money in their Secret Shopping Assignments.  The check arrives, they bring it to the bank and soon they are told that the check has cleared, so they proceed forward with their given assignments.  Usually, they are told to go to several different Western Union, Money Gram, or other money wiring locations.  Once they have wired the money they fill out an evaluation of the customer service at the location, and send it in and wait for their next assignment.
 
The problem comes in about a week, when their bank contacts them to let them know that the check was counterfeit.  The bank then deducts the amount of the check, sometimes for several thousands of dollars, from their bank account.  This leaves the person that was already feeling the strain of the current economic situation in an even tighter spot.  There are some people who end up with negative bank accounts.
 
The other scam on the rise is the Re-Victimization scam, in which the scammer sends a letter saying that they are working with a very official sounding agency, like The Fraud Alert Investigation Agency (FAIA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  They explain that they are assisting scam victims in recovering the money that they have lost.  Many of the emails and letters will even claim that they are working in efforts with agencies like the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the National White Collar Crime Center, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and most recently our own site, ScamVictimsUnited.com, has been included on this list.  Scam victims who are desperate to try to recover any of the money that they have lost may contact these people.  They may as for lawyers fees to be paid to recover the money, or ask for the victims’s bank account information so that they can deposit the recovered money directly.  Both of these are ploys to deceive the victim and drain them of even more money.
 
To protect yourself from these scams, do not accept any jobs posted online where you do not interview with someone in person before acquiring the job, and do not reply to any emails in which someone tells you that they can help you to recover lost money.  Another good safety procedure it to do a search on the name of the person who contacts you, the company that they are claiming to be with, their phone number or email address.
 
Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com

Check out our blog at
https://scamvictimsunited.wordpress.com
There is strength in numbers!
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Our site is being used in scam emails!

It recently came to our attention that our site’s name is being used in scam emails that are currently being sent out.  Below is a copy of one such email.

——————————————————

On Wed, 12/17/08, RT <luvpats4unme@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: RT <luvpats4unme@yahoo.com>
Subject: Fw: SCAM VICTIMS REIMBURSEMENTS PROGRAMME
Date: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 6:06 AM

— On Sun, 12/14/08, SCAM VICTIMS PROGRAMME <halsnow@gonowmail.com>
wrote:

> From: SCAM VICTIMS PROGRAMME <halsnow@gonowmail.com>
> Subject: SCAM VICTIMS REIMBURSEMENTS PROGRAMME
> > Date: Sunday, December 14, 2008, 6:12 AM
> THE BENEFICIARY.
> FRAUD VICTIMS/$150,000 BENEFICIARIES.
> OUR REF: 10667FV
> YOUR REF: 89007
>
>
> Attention,
>
> SCAM VICTIMS REIMBURSEMENTS PROGRAMME.
>
>
> This is to bring to your notice that we are delegated from
> the UNITED
> NATIONS in Central Bank to pay 150 victims of scam $150,000
> USD (One
> Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars Only each).You are
> listed and approved
> for this payment as one of the scammed victims to be paid
> this amount, get back to
> this office as soon as possible for the immediate payments
> of your
> $150,000 USD reimbursement funds.
>
> On this faithful recommendations, want you to know that
> during the last
> U.N. meetings held at London, United Kingdom, it was
> alarming on the money lost
> by various individuals to the scams artists operating in
> syndicates all
> over the world today. In other to reimburse victims, the
> UNITED NATIONS
> Body is now paying 150 victims $150,000 USD each in
> accordance with the
> UNITED NATIONS recommendations. Due to the corrupt and
> inefficient
> Banking Systems in London, the payments are to be remitted
> by HSBC BANK PLC
> United Kingdom as corresponding paying bank under funding
> assistance by
> BANK OF ENGLAND.
>
> Benefactor of this reimbursement award will have to be
> first cleared and
> recommended for payment by HSBC BANK PLC.
>
> According to the number of applicants at hand, 114
> Beneficiaries has been
> paid, over a half of the victims are from the United
> States, we still
> have an outstanding of 36 scam victims left to be paid.
> Other victims who
> have not been contacted can submit their application as
> well for scrutiny and
> possible consideration.
>
> We shall feed you with further modalities as soon as we get
> response from
> you on how you intend receiving your compensation payment.
>
> Send a copy of your response and payment code to our
> remittance officer:
>
> NAME: MR.Peter Edward
> SCAMMED VICTIM/REF/PAYMENTS CODE:
> WMB/10667FV $150,000 USD.
> EMAIL: forexallocationmanager@yahoo.co.uk
>
> Yours Faithfully,
> Mrs. Cynthia John
> PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
>
> _________________
> Shawn Mosch
> Co-Founder scam victims united
> There is strength in numbers!
>
> Check out our blog at
> https://scamvictimsunited.wordpress.com/

Battling the Banking Industry

I would like to share with you a problem in our banking system that needs to be addressed in order to protect all banking customers.

 

It starts when people from overseas posing as potential buyers of large items for sale on the internet, such as cars, ask the seller of the item if they can have an associate of theirs in the United States mail them a cashier’s check for the amount of the item plus transportation overseas in order to expedite the process.  They ask that once the check has cleared the bank, the seller withdraw the amount that is for transportation, and wire it to the buyer so he can schedule the shipment of the item.

 

When these cashier’s checks are deposited into the accounts of the sellers and they ask their banks to verify for them when the check will be clear and good, so that they can safely remove the funds needed, they are not given accurate information by the banks.  Some are told that the check will be good in 24 hours, and some are told that the check is guaranteed good, so they should have no worries about the using the funds.  Feeling safely assured the bank customer goes through with the transaction.  Then, days later, when the checks are found to be counterfeit the banks are holding their customer responsible for the entire amount of the check, even though the bank had already assured them that the funds were good.

 

This is exactly what happened to my husband and myself in October 2002.  We found out quickly that there was very little information that could help victims of these scams, so we decided to begin our own website, ScamVictimsUnited.com, in order to spread the word about this scam and help to save others from going through what we went through.  While our efforts have helped stop over $2 million in the first two years of operation, so much more could be done if the banking industry would take more responsibility for actually verifying these cashier’s checks before the money is released to the customers.

 

It has been our dream and our mission to find a way to compel our government and legal system to take measures to help protect banking customers from this type of unfair and deceptive business practice.  The banking system is failing to verify these checks and allowing counterfeit cashier’s checks to pass into the system which impedes the national interest of the United States because it finances crime, undermines the integrity of the international financial system, impedes the international fight against corruption and drug trafficking, terrorism and distorts economics.  United States banks are frequently used by other countries to receive large funds from unsuspecting Americans because the banks often fail to screen, monitor and check the transactions for their customers. 

 

We are asking that the customer protection laws governing banks and the check clearance/settlement system include the following:

 

          Assure full disclosure of the true time period for check clearance to the customer

          Prohibit the use of funds until a check been verified against the ledger at the issuing bank and the check has been honored

          Hold financial institutions liable for any monetary loss due to the customers reliance on false of misleading statements by financial institutions

          Mandatory holding periods on all checks of a substantial amount

          If a customer would like to access the money before the time that the bank has verified and honored the check, requiring them to sign an agreement that makes it clear that they are liable for the money of the check comes back as counterfeit.

 

 

 

 

These items will help to ensure good business practices, customer financial safety, and reduce the use of counterfeit checks as a means of fraud.  If financial institutions understand that they will be help totally liable for any monetary losses due to false or misleading statements or neglect to follow the above described check clearing and verification process the financial institutions will take measures to protect themselves from this type of loss, thus protecting the customer, the financial system, and reducing the criminal activity of producing counterfeit cashier’s checks.  Our financial institutions are our last defense against this type of fraud, so it is important that these customer protection laws be created to ensure that they are working with and for their customers in order to reduce such activity.

 

We hope that you will agree with us that the banking industry is misleading it’s customers when they do not fully disclose the time that it will take for a cashier’s check to be verified as legitimate, or when the assure a customer that a check has cleared only to hold that same customer liable when they find out later that they were wrong.  We hope that you can assist us, and all other victims of theses scams, by launching the legal battle to change the way the banking industry handles the verification process of cashier’s checks.

Open letter to Oprah

Here is a letter that I plan to send to Oprah about her recent show on scams.

——————–

My name is Shawn Mosch, and in 2002 my husband and I became victims of a counterfeit cashier’s check scam while selling a car online.  At first we were embarrassed and felt stupid.  How could we fall for a scam?  But we soon realized that the most stupid thing that we did was to trust our bank when they told us that the check had cleared and the money was safe to use.

 

We knew right away that we needed to do something to educate others about this scam, so we started the website ScamVictimsUnited.com.  In the first two years of operation, we helped to stop over 2 million dollars from going into these scams.  Through our message board we have offered support to other victims, and have helped to save thousands of people from becoming scam victims.  Becoming a scam victim puts you on an emotional and financial rollercoaster, and it has been very rewarding to know that we have helped to save so many people from going through this. 

 

We have been very vocal over the years, through our website, the media and working with other crime fighting agencies.  In June 2007, Shawn had the honor of speaking at the National Center for Victims of Crime Annual Conference in Washington D.C.  This is why we were so excited to hear that the Oprah show would be focusing on these scams in the December 4th show. 

 

We were glad to see that the show focused on more than just the 419/Advance Fee Scams which are the ones that people most commonly think of when speaking of scams.  In so many of the popular scams out there right now the scammer will send a counterfeit check . . . weather it is for an item that you are selling online, deposit on an apartment in the renter scam, the first check in the lottery scam, or your payroll check in the work from home/secret shopper scams . . . the counterfeit check is a common thread between all of theses scams. 

 

Many of the scam victims will do all of the right things, like some of the people on your show.  Since they do not know the person that they are getting the check from they will take the check to the bank and ask questions, but the problem is that often the bank employees will give the wrong answers.  Bank employees will tell people that the check has cleared or that funds are available, which gives people the false sense of security that the money is good for them to use.  That is why I was so glad to hear Sid Kirchheimer say on your show that people needed to wait until the check is money is collected on the check, not just “cleared” or “available”.  I feel that knowing this one piece of information could be the most important thing to help save people from becoming victims of these scams.  We would like to see this information posted at all bank teller locations so that all customers have all of the facts that they need.  We are also encouraging businesses like Western Union and Money Gram to post warnings at all of their locations which will bring attention to these scams when people are coming in to wire money.  Currently, there are warnings online, but these only help the people that go online and look for them.  If you do not know that the situation that you are entering into is a scam, it is not likely that you would go to the Western Union or Money Gram website and read their Customer Protection section before you go into one of their actual locations to make the wire transfer.  The information would be more helpful if it was available at the store locations.

 

Thank you so much for your show on scams, and I sincerely hope that you continue to do more shows on this topic.  These con men are good at what they do, and every day they are coming up with new scams or new twists on old scams, so there is always something new to talk about on this topic.  Education is the key to fighting these scams . . . continue to educate us all!

Site mentioned on Oprah

I just watched the Oprah show from the other day, and they did a really good job covering the topic.  They told about a romance scam site (actually, it is one that I have been to before and have chatted with members from there over the years) and they mentioned how this site has a database of scammers names and you can search them.  Here is the link if anyone is looking for it.

http://www.romancescam.com/album/search.php

Now, if you search out that database and you do not find the name of the person you are in contact with, that does not mean that they are not a scammer . . . it could just mean that their name is not on the list yet.  I would also suggest doing a google search of the scammer’s name, email address or phone number.

We will chat more about the Oprah show later.

Oprah talks about scams

Set your vcr/dvr!  Oprah is doing a segment on scams on Thursday December 4th

http://www.oprah.com/dated/oprahshow/oprahshow_20070413

I am hoping that this means that they will do more shows in future!

Scams and the Holiday Season

I saw this article today, http://www.kpcnews.com/articles/2008/11/30/features/columnists/cindy_bevington/hid116445sect_a85973188b5d8586bf.txt

and I just wanted to say that it is so sad that every year at this time we seem to see a rise in the number of people who become victims of scams.  People are looking for ways to make a few extra dollars so that they can have a happy hoilday season.  Many of them decide to sell something they own to bring in the extra cash . . . and then the scammers come along and the next thing they know they are even MORE strapped for money!  I wish I could just tell the scammers to give us all a break and take a couple of months off of work and let people just enjoy the holidays.