Yes, my savvy blog readers, you knew about this. But please read on, because further down I’m going to go into some newer nuances of this persistent scam.
The Nigerian or 419 Scam is pretty classic. A person needs to transfer money to the States. They’ll give you a cut if you accept their deposit/check/whatever. You put the money in your account and transfer them back everything but the fee. So they give you a $5000 check and you deposit it and transfer back $4000.
Bad news, your bank later tells you. The check was worthless and you paid the $4000 out of your own pocket. (There are other forms, which involve you giving out information which simply allows them to pillage your account.)
Well, now people are getting notified that they won the Irish or Canadian or Romanian lottery. They’ll get mailed the winnings but they need to send back a “processing fee” or something similar. Maybe you have to send the processing fee before you get the check. Either way, the check is bogus and you get zilch.
People are too smart to fall for these, right? *sigh* Nope. A good friend of ours works as a bank teller. She says that they keep getting customers coming in to deposit their foreign lottery winnings and planning to send a check back. Some of them have a hard time believing that this is a scam! They have the check, after all! (Or the bogus money order.)
Ok, you’re too smart for all of those?
Here’s the one that inspired this post and shocked me by its fiendish cleverness.
Mystery shopping money transfer scam.
I can’t find the site right now, but I was reading someone’s tale of woe after being scammed by a mystery shopping company. Worse than not being reimbursed or anything (save the receipts if you’re a mystery shopper!).
He signed up with a group and was told that his first assignment was in the mail. He received a check for something like $250. He was told that they were testing the money transfer station at a Walmart near his house. He was supposed to cash the check and wire back $125, then fill out a survey about his experience, ease of the transfer, all that mystery shopping stuff. The other $125 was his reimbursement.
Maybe MS pros are shaking their heads, but with all the hype you hear about mystery shopping (from some quarters), it’s not a completely unbelievable amount.
So, you guessed it, he later gets a call from the bank that the check bounced and he’s out $125. Could have been a lot worse. But this is a lot scarier than the others.
1) He signed up with the company, it wasn’t a random check in the mail.
2) It was presented in a new and comparatively legitimate context. This was the first time I’d heard of this scam being connected to mystery shopping.
I’m sad to say that I never win the Irish lottery, though Micah does. All I get are ads promising that I’ll please her better if only I get \/1@**@. I don’t know who “her” is, but I’m sure she’s pretty sad because I never click on them.