Scammers use fear to get money

When a potential victim thinks that they might be on to the scammer, the scammer may use fear to try and get the person to send them the money.  Sometimes it is the fear of “I know where you live” and sometimes it is the fear of arrest, as once scammer tried to use in the email below . . . .

From: Charles Boothe ;

This is to inform you that due to your illegal action in the process of the Cleaner job offer to you concerning the check issued to you. I was informed by my bank that the check issue has been cleared and yet i haven’t got any reply from you,
For your information as you know all your contact details is with me so i have get the FBI informed,i also gave them your contact details for them to locate you. You may have any explanation to tell them and any information you may be holding for them concerning the payment i sent to you.I know they will get you soon,You may think that i have acted so rude by doing this but i am very sorry.You make me act like that because you never let me know what is going on.
I am very sorry for any inconvenience that i might have cause concerning this job offer and the way i act. Get back to me to confirm you get this email.
Best Regard

No matter what the scammer says, do not send them the money.  They did not contact the FBI, because the check that you were sent was counterfeit.

Waring to all that sell online!

Here is one of those times where my two internet lives collide . . . I have my crafting blog and my scam education and awareness blog . . . and this topic will be posted on both of them.

I was made aware by a post on our scam fighting message board that recently several Stampin’ Up demonstrators have received emails from people wanting to purchase items and pay with a cashier’s check.  This is a scam that we have seen variations of for years on our website, and if the scammers are doing it to Stampin’ Up consultants, it is only time before they start to target other places that sell crafting items.

The scammer will request to purchase items and send a cashier’s check as payment.  If the check arrives, and it is for more than the amount of the items, the scammer will apologize for the error and ask you to deposit the check and wait for it to clear, and then wire the extra money back to them.  If the check is for the correct amount, once you have received the check and deposited it, the scammer will contact you letting you know that they need to cancel the order and will request that you return the money to them by wire transfer . . . they may even tell you to keep a portion of the money for your time and trouble.

If this situation matches one that you hear of, it is a scam.  The cashier’s check will come back as counterfeit later on and you will be held liable for the entire amount of the check.  Just because the bank has told you that the check is “good”, “clear” or “verified” does NOT mean that the money from that check is “real” and that you are safe . . . in most cases, in about a week or two, the bank will contact you and hold you liable for the money.  People have lost thousands of dollars due to these scams, and there is no way to recover this money because the scammers are in another country . . . it would have to be the law enforcement and government in that country that would have to do something about these scams.

To learn more about these and other scams, go to my website

The Sophistication of Scams

I just got done reading the article Scams achieve a new level of sophistication which does a good job at pointing out that anyone can become the victim of a scam.  Here are my two cents that I added as a comment to the article . . .

These scams have been evolving for years now, and the WORST part about any of the counterfeit cashier’s check scams is the fact that when someone wants to find out if the check is legitimate and they take it to the bank for them to look at . . . because of course the average person would assume the bank can spot a counterfeit check . . . the banking customer is told that it is “good”, “clear”, “verified” and that “funds are available”.  Look up good, clear and verified in the dictionary and by definition the average person would then assume that there is no problem in cashing and using the money from a check that is “good”, “clear” and “verified”.  But this is where we as banking customers make a mistake . . . we trust our banks are giving us accurate information.

These checks can come back weeks and even months later as counterfeit, and the bank CUSTOMER is held liable for the entire amount, the the bank, who verbally told us it was “good”, “clear” and “verified”.

How about the banks start telling people the truth?  That it could take 10 business days or more for the check to be “good”, “clear” and “verified”.  Is that too much to ask?

Eight years . . .

Eight years ago this month my husband and I became victims of a counterfeit cashier’s check scam when our bank told us that a cashier’s check we received was good, clear, verified and that we would have no problems with it.  Off of that information, we went forward with a transaction.  One week later the bank contacted us to let us know that the check was counterfeit, and that WE were 100% liable for the money . . . even though they had told us it was good, clear and verified.
It was this situation that brought us to create the website, where we warn people about scams, offer resources and advice, and allow people to talk with other victims on our message board.  In the first two years of our site being operational we helped stop over $2 million dollars from going into scams.

Now, you would think that eight years later things would have changed.  Some things have, but even today we see victims coming to our site who brought these checks to the bank and were told that they were good, clear or verified . . . sometimes by more than one bank employee . . . so the exact same situation that happened to us eight years ago is still happening to people today.
Until laws can be changed to hold the banks accountable for telling the customers that these checks are good, clear and verified and then later hold the bank customer liable when it comes back that they are NOT a true check, education is the best way we have to fight these scams.

What can you do?

Write to your law makers and tell them that you want to see banks held liable for releasing funds on checks that they have told customers are good, clear or verified, and then later reversed those words to hold the customer liable.

Sign our petition to ask for stronger consumer protection laws.  If the banks are liable for the money lost, and not the customer, then they will change their practices and make SURE that every penny is accounted for before they release the money to the customer.

Contact your bank and ask them if you brought in a cashier’s check for $4000, how long would it take to know you could use the money, with no worries about the check.  If their answer included terms like “clear“, “good” or “verified‘ you may want to read the information we have on what these terms really mean, and then armed with that information you may want to speak to the bank manager about better education on counterfeit checks for his staff, or go and find a bank that already does understand these items and can therefore better protect you and your money.


Nigerian Cheque Fraudsters – Continued

Here is a continuation of the guest blog from our friends at Cyber Crime Ops
By James Bigglesworth


I interviewed the potential victim over a number of days during the compilation of this article. Below is part one of our interview, which covers the initial part of the scam.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: Hello Pat, thanks for coming to talk to us.

Pat: Hi James, glad to be here and thanks for allowing this story to to be told via your forum. I hope that many people will read and learn from it.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: You are quite welcome. Let’s start with some basics; Who are you and what do you d for a living?

Pat: Sure, I’m Pat [censored], forty something guy from the Manchester area of our fair land of England. I’m a Vetinary Surgeon and have a small animals practice in [censored] that has been around since my grandfathers days.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: Great, thanks for that Pat. Tell us how you came into contact with the Nigerian fraudster.

Pat: Well, our surgery isn’t doing so great, so I was in need of a quick way of earning some extra cash. I know I should not have done it, but I actually responded to a spam email in my account. It was the only one I have ever answered, and by heck the only one I ever will. I didn’t actually expect to get a reply, but I did.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: What was the original email all about?

Pat: To be honest it was a bit vague, which I suppose piqued my interest. The subject was “Program employment for all”, but the email address that it came from was curious “”. The email was very short but said it was for helping unemployed people in their free time. I guess it was cheeky of me to reply, since I have a full-time job, but I was curious. That’s when this “Samuel Morcas” responded to me.

Readers may be interested to learn that the same email solicitation was received by ourselves and is posted in our Hall Of Shame forum.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: What did you find out from the reply?

Pat: Sam got back to me on the 8th June 2009, day after I first replied to him. He said that he was from New Jersey, but now in Nigeria, and that he was looking for someone to help him distribute his payroll cheques.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: Did he say how you were to do that?

Pat: Eventually, though his initial reply asked me if I have a good printer. I replied again saying I did, and basically asked him to tell me what he wanted.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: Did you get any further details when he got back to you?

Pat: Yes I sure did. Basically he wanted me to purchase some computer software which he called “verser check”, and to buy paper and ink for printing of the cheques. Then he would send me a list of people to send cheques to. I would print out the cheques at home, using the special software, and send them out to the people he gave me.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: So, why do you think he couldn’t do that himself?

Pat: Actually I never did ask him that, I just assumed that because he was in Nigeria it would take too long for the postal mail to get to the UK. If he was paying payroll, he wouldn’t want to keep people waiting for their pay too long. He did also say that he would set up a FedEx or DHL account for me to get the cheques delivered, which I guess would be very expensive to use from Africa.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: Did you start to suspect anything was wrong with the offer?

Pat: Well yes and no really. I knew that I was talking to a spammer, but I really didn’t think much about it. Looking back I was an idiot, and actually gave him my full name and postal address.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: Hindsight is a wonderful thing Pat. What happened next?

Pat: I was curious about the software he talked about so went on Google to see what I could find out. I managed to locate software called “VersaCheck” and the Ink he talked about called “VersaInk”. It was American, so I wrote back and told him that it wasn’t available for the UK.

The Ink is designated as Magnetic Ink Character Recognition which is used on cheques for compliance with US Federal and Canada Bank regulations.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: What did he say to that?

Pat: He seemed to accept it, and said he would send me the cheques in the postal mail. The last communication I had with him was on June 18th, 2009, about a week and a half after his original spam email.

CyberCrimeOps.COM: When did the cheques arrive?

Pat: Actually they didn’t arrive, and I began to forget about it.

If some unknown individual offers you some form of employment and asks you to print cheques for distribution, there is only one thing to do.


It is accepted that a business will print their own cheques for the purpose of payroll. This seems to be what these scammers are hooking into for their illegal activities. If you are recruited online to participate in such a scheme you can guarantee that it is 100% illegal.

The abuse of payroll cheque printing appears to be centered around the USA. It is also quite common for US based cheque fraud to involve charities, or at least a stolen version of their cheques. This abuse is simply down to the Federal Laws written so badly in the USA that the Banks are protected. This protection makes the Banks act like gods, and the attitudes mean that victims of crime get the blame for what is in reality failure by the banks to protect their own customers.

I find that banks in the USA always blame the customer, and never accept any responsibility for a bad system. They won’t fix it, because they are protected by Federal law, so why should they. Changing the law is the only way to change the lax and hugely arrogant banking attitudes, and we all know how quickly that is going to happen.

References and Further Reading
Hall Of Shame – Program employment for all
Wikipedia – Curiosity Killed The Cat
Wikipedia – Magnetic Ink Character Recognition

Related CyberCrimeOps.COM Articles
Cheque Fraud – The Unseen Victims
Overpayment Scams
Payment Cashing – A Mule Of A Fraud
Secret and Mystery Shopping With A Twist
Seller Beware – Are You Really Getting Paid?
You Have Won A Lottery/Sweepstake – Or Have You?

Nigerian Cheque Fraudsters

I would like to share a guest blog post from my friend at Cyber Crime Ops

Nigerian Cheque Fraudsters – Truth From The Horses Mouth
By James Bigglesworth
July 9, 2009


Some people reading this article may have heard about “The Nigerian Cheque Scam”, where someone from Nigeria sends a cheque for more than the value of something that is being offered by a seller. Likewise, cheques to be “processed” as part of some employment scheme are also included in this bracket. The premise is to get the victim to cash the cheque, and send part of the proceeds somewhere else. Later the cheque bounces, leaving the victim with a large debt to pay, and possible prosecution.

The cheques are not always sent from Nigeria though. They may actually be sent from somewhere within your own country, maybe even your own state, province or county. It could be confusing to be dealing with someone who says they are an American in Nigeria, but you are in Britain, and you get a cheque post-marked London.

Ever wondered how this is done? What goes on beneath the surface? Read on to find out more.


The compilation of exchanges below have been provided to us by a potential victim of a fraud. The communications, though not totally complete, have taken place between an innocent and a Nigerian criminal. Readers are reminded that communications with criminals is hazardous to your status as a living member of society. Giving personal details to a fraudster places you, your family and your friends, in the firing line if a scammer wants retribution against you.

Whilst it is not always easy to know that person x is a fraudster before you start to communicate, anything that follows that indicates that they are a criminal should be enough to cease any further communication.

There is a saying that “Curiosity Killed The Cat” [link], and this is a warning for everyone to take heed. Our potential victim was so curious that he could very easily have been mistaken for a willing participant of an international bank fraud.

In short, DO NOT attempt to “find out what it is all about”, simply walk away and do not look back.

Scams and Trying to Educate People

I had a former co-worker email me the other day and she told me she was reading her Homemade Simple Magazine, and saw my name in it.
While I was VERY happy to see this article about scams, since this helps to educate people to what is going on, I was disappointed to see that some of the facts were not accurate.  Here is a portion of the article that is speaking about how to verify the status of a cashier’s check . . .
To find out a check’s status, call your bank twice (talk to two different workers in case one doesn’t understand the process) to verify that the check has been fully processed. Otherwise you lose the money if the check is a fake.
This would not be accurate.  In the case of our story, I spoke with two different bank employees BEFORE I withdrew the money from the account, and both of them told me that the check was “good”, “clear”, “verified”, “funds were available” and that I “had nothing to worry about”.  Once we found out the check was counterfeit and were dealing with the bank’s loss prevention department we asked them the same question, and we had two different people from THAT department tell us that “a cashier’s check is verified as good within 24 hours”.  These people in the loss prevention department knew what had happened to us, yet they were still giving us the same inaccurate information.
The ONLY real way to find out if the check is counterfeit or not is to call the bank that is listed on the check as the issuing bank.  Also, you cannot trust the phone number listed on the check.  The scammers have gotten smart and have started altering those also so that they go to one of the people within their group who will tell you that the check is good.  You need to do a Google search to find the official website of the issuing bank, or the Yellow Pages listing for that bank, and then call that phone number.
The advice from this article in regards to counterfeit cashier’s checks would not save anyone from becoming a victim of these types of scams.  It is sad, because the point of the article was to show real world situations that the everyday person could become involved in, and how they can be aware and protect themselves from these scams.
It looks like we still have a LOT of education to do, especially to the people that are trying to help educate the average American.

Minnesota Victims

I am looking for victims of internet crimes in Minnesota who would be willing to share their story with City Pages.  If you do not want your name printed, they are willing to respect that.

If you are a victim of any type of internet crime, I encourage you to come forward and share your story.  I know it is not easy . . . I am a scam victim also . . . but I do know how rewarding it is to know that you have helped save others from being a scam victim because your story gave them the information to protect themselves.

If you are interested, you can contact me through

Victims – Tell your story!

I will OFTEN get requests from media people for victims to share their story (on radio, tv or in print).  If you are a victim who would be willing to share your story, please contact me via email with your name, state you live in, and the type of scam you were a victim of (counterfeit check, romance, roommate, credit card fraud, 419, ID theft, etc.)

This can be a wonderful way for you to share your story and help to warn and educate other people about scams!

Consumer Law & Policy Blog sees my point

I just got done reading the article at the Consumer Law and Policy Blog entitled How Chase Bank Almost Helped a Teenager Get Scammed.  This story points out exactly what we at Scam Victims United have been talking about since 2003.  The banks will tell people that the checks are “clear”, “good” or “verified” but none of those words mean anything about the customer’s protection from risk when these checks come back as counterfeit.  The bank will still hold the customer liable for the entire amount.

I think this is wrong.  When the bank employee tells you that the check is “clear”, “good” or “verified” that should be the same as a verbal contract, and if something should come up later with that same check the BANK should hold some, if not all, of the liability.  Isn’t that the job of the bank, to verify these checks?  

This is why we have started the petition at asking for a change in these laws and better consumer protection against theses scams.  We have also gone out to local high schools to give presentations to the students in order to educate them about these scams, and the banking terms.  We need to give not only our teens, but everyone, the tools that they need to protect themselves from these scams.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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