HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FROM THE FINANCIAL RUIN OF NIGERIAN 419 COUNTERFEIT CHECK FRAUD

The Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud (Overpayment Fraud):
Bankrupting thousands through online and off line Classifieds

Between February and June of 2003 more than $25 Million Dollars disappeared into Nigeria and China as a result of the latest Nigerian fraud – counterfeit checks. You can figure that by now that amount has more than tripled.

Every day we work with victims of this fraud and the Payment Processing Scam who have had to file for bankruptcy, been rendered homeless, or have been picked up by local law enforcement and jailed for presenting a counterfeit check, stolen or forged money order, stolen and washed corporate or Treasury checks, or for receiving stolen funds transferred into their bank or credit card account.

Here’s how it starts

You want to sell your old car, or Aunt Tillie’s bureau, or those terrific dogs you breed? Just run an ad in anyone of the online classifieds and you can reach an audience of thousands.

One of those thousands is a swindler who has been patiently watching his screen all morning, just waiting for you – and several hundred other people – to post an ad.

He or she will contact you by email or phone and offer to buy what you’re selling, usually no questions asked, sight unseen. What a deal! Your item will be picked up on behalf of the so¬ called buyer by someone local. As for the payment, you’ll be sent a check that’s way over the amount you’re asking. Please just go ahead and deposit the check and send the buyer the difference.

Where do these checks come from?

In the beginning, most of the checks arrived by mail with a return address of “Maryland, LAGOS.” That is to say, they came from Nigeria but a quick glance would lead you to believe it arrived from the State of Maryland in the U.S.

These days the checks arrive from all over – Toronto, New York, Amsterdam, London, California (anyone of the United States, actually), Malaysia, pick a country, any country. Pick a city, any city.

The check forging rings are so widespread that members can be found just about anywhere. They stay in place on long enough to ensure the forged checks arrive at their destination. Most communication from the phony buyer is received via email, cell phone, and satellite phone.

Who says you can’t cheat an honest man?

Most Nigerian scams rely on a certain amount of greed on the part of the target and a willingness to overlook the legal aspects of the proposal, such as ferreting illegally acquired funds out of Nigeria or other countries.

The Counterfeit Check scam, on the other hand, is based on the total honesty of the swindler’s target which is you, the seller.

Following the buyer’s request, you deposit the check into your account. If you have received a Cashier’s Check or have an excellent credit record with your bank, the check will be credited to your account without delay. If the funds were wired directly to your account from another bank, then there is no question that the money is readily available.

You then immediately arrange for the excess funds to be wired to the bank account number the buyer has supplied to you for that purpose, or to forward the funds through Western Union. Your bank sends the funds out either that day or the following morning, or you run down to the nearest Western Union office to wire the funds to London or Italy or wherever.

Shortly thereafter you receive a call from the bank and the roof falls in on you.

Fact is, NO legitimate business transaction asks you to wire excess funds anywhere. It’s simply not done for the basic reason that no legitimate business person is about to trust an absolute stranger with their money.

Who ends up paying the price?

In most instances, you are going to have to pay for the loss. That means you will have to make up for the amount that you wired – plus any of the money you spent. In rare instances, the bank will absorb the loss, but don’t count on it.

The reason for this is that when you endorse a check, you are vouching for the validity of that check.

But what about Cashier’s Checks? Or funds wired directly into your account? In those instances the liability is determined on a case by case basis. Some banks are on the alert for the scam, others are not. Nonetheless, the final responsibility lies with the depositor.

You see, the only responsibility a financial institution has toward its customers is to keep each person’s funds accounted for and safe from harm. Those are the basics. Beyond that, there are Federal regulations, state regulations, and internal regulations. Laws are different for Credit Unions, Commercial Banks, and brokerage houses. Each is accountable to a different oversight organization.

The Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud: Ruining lives by the thousands

The Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud: Overpayment Fraud Bankrupting thousands through online and offline Classifieds

Between February and June of 2003, more than $25 Million Dollars disappeared into Nigeria, Kuwait, and China as a result of the latest Nigerian fraud – counterfeit checks. You can figure that by now that amount has more than tripled.

Every day I deal with victims of this fraud who have had to file bankruptcy, been rendered homeless, or have been mistakenly picked up by local law enforcement and jailed as check forgers.

Here’s how it starts

You want to sell your old car, or Aunt Tillie’s bureau, or those terrific dogs you breed? Just run an ad in anyone of the online classifieds and you can reach an audience of thousands.

One of those thousands is a swindler who has been patiently watching his screen all morning, just waiting for you – and several hundred other people – to post an ad.

He or she will contact you by email or phone and offer to buy what you’re selling, usually no . questions asked, sight unseen. What a deal! Your item will be picked up on behalf of the so-called buyer by someone local. As for the payment, you’ll be sent a check that’s way over the amount you’re asking. Please just go ahead and deposit the check and send the buyer the difference. Or send it to the so-called shipper.

Matching the scam to the situation

But maybe you’re not selling anything. Maybe you’ve received a Nigerian Scam Letter, Inheritance format. You’ve been told a relative has died in West Africa, leaving you a lot of money. You can’t afford to pay the [phony] fees, and one of the swindlers offers to send you the money in return for a percentage of the inheritance. Unfortunately, the check they send you is counterfeit.

Maybe you have an apartment or house to rent. The swindler is going to overpay you for the first month’s rent, please send the balance to the movers. Or wherever.

No matter what the deal is, you are always offered a check that is in excess of the amount you require. There is always an overpayment.

Where do these checks come from?

In the beginning, most of the checks arrived by mail with a return address of “Maryland, LAGOS.” That is to say, they came from Nigeria but a quick glance would lead you to believe it arrived from the State of Maryland in the U.S.

These days the checks arrive from all over – Toronto, New York, Amsterdam, London, California (anyone of the United States, actually), Malaysia, pick a country, any country. Pick a city, any city.

The check forging rings are so widespread that members can be found just about anywhere. They stay in place on long enough to ensure the forged checks arrive at their destination. Most communication from the phony buyer is received via email, cell phone, and satellite phone.

Who says you can’t cheat an honest man?

Most Nigerian scams rely on a certain amount of greed on the part of the target and a willingness to overlook the legal aspects of the proposal, such as ferreting illegally acquired funds out of Nigeria or other countries.

The Counterfeit Check scam, on the other hand, is based on the total honesty of the swindler’s target which is you, the seller.

Following the buyer’s request, you deposit the check into your account. If you have received a Cashier’s Check or have an excellent credit record with your bank, the check will be credited to your account without delay. If the funds were wired directly to your account from another bank, then there is no question that the money is readily available.

You then immediately arrange for the excess funds to be wired to the bank account number the buyer has supplied to you for that purpose, or to forward the funds through Western Union. Your bank sends the funds out either that day or the following morning, or you run down to the nearest Western Union office to wire the funds to London or Italy or wherever.

Shortly thereafter you receive a call from the bank and the roof falls in on you.

Fact is, NO legitimate business transaction asks you to wire excess funds anywhere. It’s simply not done for the basic reason that no legitimate business person is about to trust an absolute stranger with their money.

Who ends up paying the price?

In most instances, you are going to have to pay for the loss. That means you will have to make up for the amount that you wired – plus any of the money you spent. In rare instances, the bank will absorb the loss, but don’t count on it.

The reason for this is that when you endorse a check, you are vouching for the validity of that check.

But what about Cashier’s Checks? Or funds wired directly into your account? In those instances the liability is determined on a case by case basis. Some banks are on the alert for the scam, others are not. Nonetheless, the final responsibility lies with the depositor.

You see, the only responsibility a financial institution has toward its customers is to keep each person’s funds accounted for and safe from harm. Those are the basics. Beyond that, there are Federal regulations, state regulations, and internal regulations. Laws are different for Credit Unions, Commercial Banks, and brokerage houses. Each is accountable to a different oversight organization.

What do they want?

Lottery scam letters are sent out by the thousands and thousands every day. There are only two things the bad guys want: your money and your identity. Your identity is just as important or even more important than any money you send them, and they can get your identity when you open the very first letter if it contains a Trojan horse or spy ware; scam letters often do.

What will they say to get what they want?

They will tell you whatever you want to hear. They will tell you whatever they feel you will believe. They will pretend to be lawyers, claims agents, bankers, law enforcement agents, people of high rank in the government, gaming officials, tax collectors, and any other title that will convince you they are good people.

When do they ask for personal identification?

After you answer the first letter, they will write back asking for your personal identification. This is used to steal your identity. They steal your identity by using your personal banking, passport, driver’s license, or credit card information to open accounts you don’t know about – it doesn’t matter if you have bad credit! Felons get jobs using your name. They buy things in your name and do not pay for them. They take out loans in your name and do not pay for them. They commit crimes using your name and leave you holding the bag. Creditors will contact you asking for their money. Police will contact you and may even hold you for questioning to determine if you are telling the truth. Identity Theft is a very serious thing. If you have sent them a copy of your passport, birth certificate, identity card, or driver’s license; if you have sent them your banking information or your credit card information, please go HERE immediately!

When do they ask for money?

They usually ask for money in the second or third letter; sometimes they ask for money in the first letter or the fourth letter.

Legitimate lotteries, free lotteries (also known as Sweepstakes) never, NEVER ask for money. They do not have to. There are no fees of any kind. If you really win a lottery or Sweepstakes, the only money you owe is the tax you personally pay directly to your government. This tax is never paid through anyone else or by anyone else. This is true in every country.

They tell you that you must pay money for bank fees, storage, shipping, and a long line of false reasons. Every single reason, every document is false. All documents are counterfeit or forged. There are no fees for insurance. There is no document or charge stating that the “winnings” will not be used for terrorism or illegal purposes. No such document exists. Lottery money is not stored at a security house. Lottery money is not shipped in cash. Lottery money is not sent by courier.

Lottery money or Sweepstakes (free lottery) money is sent by check using DHL, UPS, or FedEx. The check is from the Lottery Company and has the lottery company name on the check. For instance, if you win the ABC Lottery, the check will say ABC Lottery on it. The address for ABC Lottery will be correct. It will be one that you can verify on your own, without asking the people who wrote the letters. Why does the check come from the lottery company and have the lottery company name on it? Because the lottery or Sweepstakes wants you to make copies of the check. They want you to show it to everyone so that more people will register. This is very important to them.

Is anything in the winning notification letter true?

NO. Nothing in the winning notification letter is true. All the letters are sent by people in a fraud cell. A cell is a part of a fraud ring that consists of a few members who work under instructions from the fraud ring leader. The fraud cell works from hotel rooms, back rooms (“boiler” rooms) and Internet Cafes.

If you walk into one of these boiler room, you see a lot of laptop computers and cell phones. Cell phones might be piled on tables or on beds. Each cell phone has a different name taped on the back.

Actually, two names are written there. One is the name of a scam victim, the other is the name of the character the scammer is playing.

That is how each criminal knows what to say on the phone because the lies are based on the victim’s name written on the tape and the phony name attached to that phone number.

Each criminal in the fraud cell knows which one of them is corresponding with that particular victim, and knows what part to play. One single criminal in a boiler room can be using as many as 30 different false names and titles.

I have received a check/money order and I am supposed to send some of the money to ______________.

DANGER!! DO NOT TOUCH THAT CHECK OR MONEY ORDER! The check or money order you have received is COUNTERFEIT or stolen and you are responsible for the entire amount. You are responsible for any money you spend and any money you send to anyone else. If the bank or check casher is not aware of this crime (called OVERPAYMENT FRAUD), then you could be arrested. Also, you owe taxes on the money that you kept.

I wired money by Western Union or Moneygram. Can I get it back?

No, I am afraid you cannot get your money back. This is true for 3 reasons. (1) Once the funds are sent through Western Union and picked up at the other end, there is no trail to follow. (2) You don’t really know where you are sending the money or who is going to pick it up. The funds you wired can be picked up at any Western Union office anywhere in the world, and they can be picked up by anyone who furnishes the specified identification, which is often false. (3) The criminals do not put the money in a savings account. It is spent immediately. The money goes to fund further scam operations, amusement, opening and maintaining drug routes, and funding terrorism.

What if the winning notification refers to a web site?

Anyone can purchase and register a domain name. A domain is the name of the web site. For instance, fraudaid.com is Fraud-Aid’s domain. No background check is made to determine if the person who is purchasing and registering a domain is legitimate because a domain is merely a rented space on the Internet. Nothing more.

Lottery winning notifications often refer to web sites that are supposed to be a bank, or a security company, or a courier service, or an online lottery web site. Fraud criminals purchase domains by the hundreds. These false web sites appear to be legitimate unless a person is trained to recognize them as false.

One of the many ways in which fraud criminals trick their victims is to create a false bank web site. They tell the victim that the lottery money has been deposited in the [false] bank in the victim’s name. They give the victim a user name and password to look at the “money” in his or her account.

When the victim looks at the online account he or she will see a balance equal to the promised winnings. If the amount is not equal to the promised winnings, it still shows a very large balance. The truth is that there is no money. Anyone can create a password protected web page in just a few minutes. It is very easy to do. Making the page look like an online bank account is very easy.

The victim is told that the money cannot be withdrawn unless a large cash deposit is made to “release” the money. The fraud criminal gives the victim the name of a different bank, an account number, an account name, and a bank routing number. Once the victim sends the cash and the cash reaches the fraud criminal’s bank account, the money is withdrawn and the account is closed. The criminal then gives the victim many false reasons for why the deposit did not release the money. The victim is told that more money has to be sent for other false reasons.

Can I or my family be physically injured by lottery fraud criminals?
Yes! You can be physically injured and even killed by lottery fraud criminals. They are very dangerous people. So far, physical injury, kidnapping, and murder have only occurred in West Africa and South Africa. Some people who travel to South Africa to take possession of their [false] winnings have terrible things happen to them. People who travel to West Africa (Nigeria and neighboring countries) have also been beaten, kidnapped, or murdered.

So far, I have not heard that lottery criminals have injured anyone outside of West Africa and South Africa.

Lottery Scam Letters

PART I:

The answers to your most frequent questions,

The lottery criminals are threatening to report me to the FBI and the Secret Service. Can they do that?
The people who are threatening you are fraud criminals. They are participating in criminal activity. They cannot threaten you with notifying Federal law enforcement (the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Secret Service or Scotland Yard) because to do so they have to explain the situation. The FBI and the Secret Service are aware of this criminal activity. Also, using threats to frighten you into sending them money is called extortion and is against the law in all countries. You do not have to worry about their threats. Do not pay any attention to them. Ignore their threats. It is a good thing to report the threats to the FBI or the Secret Service or Scotland Yard. You should do this immediately.

Is my winning notification letter true if the names in the letter are different from the ones in your database?

Even if the names on the winning notification are different than the ones in the database, that does not mean the letter is okay. It is not the names that make the lottery letter true or false. It is what the letter SAYS that makes it fraudulent. That is why you will find a list of sentences and statements in PART II below that show you how to identify a fraudulent lottery letter. If the letter you have contains even one of the sentences or statements listed below, your letter is a fraud!

I’ve played the lottery online. How do I know this isn’t from them?
In order to play an online lottery or sweepstakes, you must first REGISTER your name, address, phone number, and email address at the online lottery site. If you are registering with an online lottery, you are often asked to register a credit card number as well. ALL LEGITIMATE ONLINE LOTTERIES AND SWEEPSTAKES HAVE TERMS AND CONDITIONS / RULES & REGULATION PAGES. These pages explain how you are notified if you win.

In many cases, in order to see if you have won, you must log into your registered account. Some online lotteries will notify winners, but you still must log into your account in order to check your winnings and choose whether you want to be paid by check or by a credit to your credit card.

Sweepstakes notify you by email, but still request that you log into your account to make payment determinations or to confirm the email.

They’ve asked me to refer them to friends and family.

This is their latest ploy – network marketing. The sad thing is that it’s working. If you have sent off the name and address, email, telephone number of a friend or relative in reply to a winning lottery notification, please call th9.t person immediately and have them read all the information or explain the scam to them yourself.

My notification came by standard post and the documents look genuine. Doesn’t that make it real?

Lottery scam letters are sent by email, regular post, Federal Express, DHL, UPS, etc. All available deliveries methods are used. In the US, the letters – along with the envelope they came in, regardless of the delivery method – are to be taken to the nearest Post Office, ATTN: US Postal Inspector. Any fraud delivered within the contiguous United States of America using any official delivery system comes under the offices of the US Postal Inspector General’s Fraud Investigation Unit.

As for the documents looking oh-so-real, they’re not. Using a computer graphics program, a person can create any kind of document whatsoever. Please remember that unless you can
DIRECTLY contact the registered lottery company itself, not some agent, not some fellow on a cell phone, not some person in a country where the lottery is not registered with the gaminq board, watch out!

Lastly, always remember – it’s not who wrote the letter that makes it a scam, it’s what the letter SAYS that makes it a scam.

PART II:

A scam letter is a scam letter because of what it SAYS. On this next page you will see the most common claims and phrases used by Lottery Scam Letters. It only takes one of phrases or claims to make the entire letter a fraud.

PART II:

It’s not the names in the letter that make it a fraud. The letter is a fraud because of what it says!

How can you be sure you’ve received a lottery Scam letter?

The letter is a scam if:

1. You did not buy a ticket.

2. You do not live in the lottery country and you are not a citizen of the lottery country.

3. You did not register your name, street address, email address, phone number, and a credit card BEFORE you were allowed to buy a ticket on an online lottery web site.

4. Your email inbox and surface mail box are not loaded with months worth of advertising for that lottery and its games.

5. You never heard of the lottery name.

6. The letter contains at least ONE of the claims and statements listed below.

There is no such thing as a random email lottery. It is against the law for anyone to make use of your email address without your permission and no legitimate business will ever do it.

Red flags:

1) A “red flag” is what law enforcement investigators call something in an investigation that looks criminal, evidence that is known from experience to be used by criminals. If you cannot independently verify the legitimacy of the person who has contacted you, DO NOT provide any personal information whatsoever! Lottery scam letters arrive by BOTH email and regular post.

2) The letter contains anyone of the following phrases or an portion of the following phrases:

• All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 30,000 names from Australia, New Zealand, America, Asia, Europe, Africa, USA and North America as part of our International Promotions Program, which will subsequently be conducted annually.

• Mention of any kind of claim agent.

• “Due to the mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this award strictly from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants of
• this program.”

• “N.B. Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the winners will result to disqualification.”

• “You are seriously advised to keep all winning lottery information and numbers from the public in line with our company security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by unscrupulous individuals.”

• “Due to the mixed up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this winning a top secret from the public notice until your claims has been processed and remitted to your account as this is apart of the security protocol, to avoid double claiming or unwarranted taking advantage of this program by participants.”

• “All participants were selected randomly from World Wide Web site through computer draw system and extracted from over 100,000 companies.”

• “This lottery was promoted and sponsored by…

• Ted Turner

• Jesse Jackson

• Ken Evoy

• Bill Gates

• The Sultan of Brunei

• Microsoft

3) A request for money: The most important red flag is a request for money. The request usually appears in the 2nd or 3rd letter, either at the same time as the request for personal information or in a letter that arrives once you’ve provided your personal information. Lottery Scam Letters are what is called an Advance Fee Fraud. If you have won a lottery, you do not pay any upfront fees to anyone at any time for any reason. You pay income taxes to your government only by filing your government’s income tax forms and sending your money directly to your government yourself. Taxes for foreign governments are removed directly from the winnings before payout.

4) No legitimate lottery web site exists without legitimate rules posted: Legitimate rules can be verified by going to the web site of government-sponsored lotteries. You can find a list of government-sponsored lotteries and all their rules and regulations at Interlotto.com. Compare these with what you see at the web site listed in the lottery letter.

5) A call to the local embassy or consulate reveals that the lottery is a scam: Sometimes a country is listed, sometimes it isn’t. When it is, a call to your local embassy or consulate of that country is will reveal to you that the letter is bogus. However, it is strongly advised that YOU take a look at all points made on this page because swindlers may use a legitimate lottery name for their scam.

6) No country of origin is listed.

7) No licenses or registrations are available for independent verification: Independent verification means that you verify all claims by asking other sources. The truth cannot be verified by asking the person who is making the claim. All legitimate lotteries are licensed and registered with the appropriate gaming committee.

8) A statement that the funds will be sent to you by a courier or security service and that you have to pay the courier service for the delivery and/or storage.

9) Any request for money to pay for anything whatsoever.

10) You are told that you have to travel to the country where the lottery was held in order to claim your winnings:

This is a trick to get you to say that you will not travel to any country to pick up your winnings. Their reply is to give you all kinds of phony reasons for paying false fees in order to get the winnings to you.

11) You are sent a check written on the account of a person or company you do not know, or you are sent a cashier’s check (bank check). Either way you are told that you must deposit the check and send some of the money either back to them or on to another person. THE CHECK IS COUNTERFEIT and you will be held responsible for the full value of the check. See really verify corporate and Cashier’s Checks.

The Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud: Ruining lives by the thousands

CONVINCING UNWITTING VICTIMS TO DEPOSIT FORGED CHECKS OR ACCEPT WIRED FUNDS

How to REALLY verify that check

Understand this: the basis of the scam is Money Laundering. You are laundering money for a gang of criminals. That means there is ALWAYS money in the account. Criminals are not going to the trouble of setting you up to launder money from an empty account.

Traditionally, we have been taught that the best way to verify the validity of any check is to call the account holder’s bank to see of there is money in the account to cover the check. That is no longer a reliable method of check verification. Those days are gone forever.

The fact is that the only response the account holder’s bank can give you is based on an electronic verification. This only confirms that the account exists and that there are sufficient funds in that account at the moment of your call.

In this day and age, one must contact the account holder himself. Only the account holder can provide definitive information as whether or not a check has been issued in your name for the requested product.

Verifying a Money Order

It sometimes happens that these swindlers use Money Orders. I haven’t heard of too many cases, but it does occur. If you receive a Money Order, contact the Money Order company or the bank listed on the money order and make sure that you explain that you want to verify that the amount and Payee match their records. Do the same whether the money order was purchased at a market or at a Post Office.

Verifying a Cashier’s Check

But what about a Cashier’s Check? Well here’s what you do.

Ordinarily one calls the issuing bank. If this bank is huge, like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, one is put through a series of options on a voice menu. Again, if you go through the merchant verification routine, only the electronic validity of the check is confirmed.

Skip that. Go directly to an assistant or whatever the real live person is called on the voice menu. Ask for the telephone number of the branch on which the Cashier’s Check is drawn. If you are asked why you need to speak to the branch, tell them that you need to get a physical verification of the Cashier’s Check you are holding.

Call the branch. Now you will be able to receive a physical verification of the check you have in hand because a ledger record is kept right there at the branch. That branch can immediately tell you whether that specific check was written for the amount indicated, and whether or not it was made out to you.

Accepting Wired Funds

Just say NO. Sometimes the swindlers will wire funds directly to your account. Under no circumstances whatsoever should you accept funds wired to you by a stranger. Why? Because you have no way of verifying the source of those funds. If you accept those funds, you may find out after it’s too late that the source is a forged or counterfeit Cashier’s Check.

What smart people are doing …

It is important to keep in mind that if you do not know the person with whom you are doing business, then be wary until you have a proven track record of dependability.

Every day merchants are taken to the cleaners by bad checks and stolen credit cards. It’s no different if you are an individual selling your car in the classifieds.

The smart thing to do is have the check verified before even depositing it into your account. Contact the owner of the check, or give the check to your bank telling them you want it physically verified for authenticity.

… and smarter still

Do you know what an escrow account is? If you don’t, here’s the explanation of escrow services: https ://www.escrow.com/index.asp(Escrow.com )

I‘m sending over there so that you will have an absolute understanding of why you should use escrow services whenever you enter into a buying or selling transaction with a complete stranger. And sometimes with friends and relatives.

An escrow service offers you the protection you need from being taken to the cleaners by swindlers, disagreements on receipt of product, misunderstandings, and all sorts of flies that can turn up in the ointment.

Essentially, you are hiring a licensed and bonded 3rd party to hold the funds until all parties are satisfied with the transaction, at which point the buyer can order the release of his money to the seller. On the other hand, if the item is to be returned to the seller, the buyer can’t access his funds until the seller agrees that he has received the item back in the same condition as it was upon shipment.

Escrow services can be used for large ticket items, or small ones. It’s better to pay for this service (you can include the fees in your product cost) than to find out that you are in a world of hurt because you didn’t protect yourself when dealing with a stranger.

Know Your Customer (KYC)

This has become a byword for banks all over the world. It helps keep banks from unknowingly being used for money laundering and other criminal activities.

Knowing your customer means that you are not merely taking the word of someone about whom you know nothing. Regardless of the financial transaction, you should never accept as gospel what you are being told. You MUST protect yourself and your family.

CONVINCING UNWITTING VICTIMS TO DEPOSIT FORGED CHECKS OR ACCEPT WIRED FUNDS

The Bank’s Role

In order to understand the bank’s role in all of this, you must first understand what a bank really is.

In it’s very simplest form, a bank is an accountant with a calculator, a ledger, a safe, and a license to take money in for safekeeping. Everybody’s money is kept in the safe, and separated by owner in the ledger, not the safe. A simple system of debits and credits. That’s it folks. Everything beyond that consists of add-on services to garner more deposits from customers so that the accountant can pay for the overhead.

The way in which the accountant pays for the overhead is by charging a small fee for maintaining each account (i.e. accounting for the funds in his care), and by judiciously lending out a portion of the gross deposits. By charging interest on the loans, some of which is shared with the depositors, he can now pay for his office and his salary.

A bank is a building that houses the accounts of its depositors

None of the money in that building belongs to the bank itself, other than what it earns in fees for service and its portion of interest on loans and investments.

The processes of modern banking are complex, particularly since the advent of electronic banking, the current tremendous growth of international trade and trade banking, and the seemingly endless rules and regulations, but the basics remain the same.

So along comes Joe with a forged check from a Nigerian con artist. Granted, Joe doesn’t know the check is forged, but that’s not the real problem. The problem is where the money comes from that will go into Joe’s account for him to spend. You see, in the case of a forged check, it comes from Joe’s neighbors. It comes out of that “safe” we talked about in the first paragraph.

JoesBank

And this is how it works. We’ll call the place where Joe keeps his checking account “JoesBank.”

JoesBank electronically verifies the check that Joe brought in. In other words, a teller or bank officer looks up the check owner’s account on a computer. Sure enough, there’s money in the account on which the check is drawn. Joe’s account is credited with the amount of the check.

There are two processing possibilities for crediting Joe’s account:

1. If the check is a Cashier’s Check or if Joe is a customer in good standing, Joe’s account may be immediately credited with funds.

“Immediately” means that a portion of the money in the JoesBank “safe” is credited to Joe’s account pending receipt of the funds from the bank that issued the Cashier’s Check.

Normally, the Cashier’s Check bank debits funds from its “safe” and sends them to JoesBank. JoesBank puts the funds from the Cashier’s Check bank back in its “safe.”

I’m simplifying here, but only by very little. No point in getting into each detail of how money moves through the Federal Reserve, going back and forth between banks.

In any event, in this case the Cashier’s Check is denied, so there is no money to put back in the JoesBank “safe” to replace the money credited to Joe’s account.

2. If the check is a regular corporate check, it’s sent through the system. This means that a Hold is placed on the check until it clears. That means the check is presented to the account holder’s bank and, if there are sufficient funds in the account holder’s account on the day the check arrives, the amount is credited to JoesBank.

“Clears” is an electronic term. It means that the amount of the check is electronically conveyed to the account holder’s bank as a debit, followed by the physical check which travels in what are called “batches” to a check clearing house.

Again, I’m simplifying but it’s not much more complicated than that. Basically, Brinks picks up a bag (batch) of checks from JoesBank at the end of the banking day, drives them to the local. check clearing house, and from there the checks are sent off to the various banks they came from.

Back to clearing the check. A check travels through the system electronically and physically. The check owner’s bank electronically acknowledges receipt of the debit, debits the check owner’s account, and forwards the funds back through the system to be credited to JoesBank, then to Joe’s account.

Depending on the “route” (how many credit and debit processes the check owner’s bank is from JoesBank), the entire process can take from just a few days to a couple of weeks.

Now comes the sticky part

Remember the physical check that Brinks picked up and transported to the clearing house? It is finally verified by actual eyes and declared invalid. If it’s a Cashier’s Check or Money Order, that happens fairly quickly.

If it’s a corporate or personal check, eyes-on can take weeks depending on when statements are sent out and when the account holder actually eyeballs the check. Or verifies his account balance.

Once the check has been declared invalid (this includes Cashier’s Checks, Money Orders, Traveler’s Checks, what have you), the check owner’s bank sends a debit through the system, debiting JoesBank for the amount in full, plus handling fees. JoesBank has no choice but to allow the debit to be taken from its “safe.”

What’s in the “safe” specifically means a portion of the sum total of the money that Joe’s neighbors have left with JoesBank for safekeeping, minus that which is out on loan and invested. That’s how the ledger is kept. Depositor money in, depositor money out. Because of the bank’s license, it is the bank’s fiduciary responsibility to retrieve those funds by whatever manner possible.

Since it was Joe’s contractual responsibility as an account holder to be responsible for the true value of what he deposits into his account, Joe is the one to whom the bank turns.

Bad checks

Bad checks are a daily cost of doing business for any company. Happens all the time. Sometimes the company can recoup on a bounced check, sometimes its charged off to Bad Debt and becomes a Loss on the company’s books. The company is out the amount of the check, plus the bounced check charge, plus the value of the product or service the check was written for. This may be tough on a company, but the financial consequences are far worse for the individual like Joe. In fact, the consequences can be overwhelming.

Many banks in the U.S. have yet to adjust their system or their way of thinking to the onslaught of the Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud. Yes, they could work out a loan with the victim for the entire amount of the loss plus expenses; but in many cases the victims are selling items because they are strapped for money to begin with. Some victims simply cannot afford to pay back a loan, leaving the banks to press on using whatever recourse is available to them.

For more on this issue and to join a discussion board, you might want to click on over to Scam Victims United where victims of this fraud are meeting to tell their stories and work on solutions.

The Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud:
Bankrupting thousands through online and offline classifieds

Western Union – Wiring Money Into the Void
Wiring funds through the banking system

When you wire funds from your checking account to your cousin’s checking account in Oshkosh, a paper trail is established. If your cousin calls you on Tuesday to find out where the money is that you wired last Thursday, your bank can track the path of the money through the banking system to see what went wrong. A record of transfer is generated each and every time the amount moves from one bank’s ledger to the next. (See Wire Transfer Systems)

Wiring funds through Western Union

That’s not the case at all when you use Western Union. The only record kept by Western Union is of your funds being transferred from one of their accounts to another. For instance, if you are in Los Angeles and you wire funds to somebody in London, all that Western Union can tell you is that the funds were picked up in London, and at which office.

Western Union takes your money and gives you a receipt. Your funds are then placed in the Los Angeles central Western Union account along with all the other monies they have received during the day from all over Los Angeles. Each transfer request is logged electronically such that your specific amount is then sent off to the central Western Union account in London.

Once the funds are in a central account, the actual money can be picked up at any office covered by that account. Just because you were told to wire money to such-and-such a fellow at such-and-such a Western Union office does not mean he’ll actually pick it up there. He can pick it up at an office clear across the city.

Western Union can verify that the fellow who picked up the money carried the specified
identification. They might even be able to tell you what he looked like. This doesn’t really do you much good. His identification can be phony as the day is long. All you know when you wired the funds is what you were told. Once your guy walks out of that office, there is absolutely nothing to bring him back, unlike your cousin in Oshkosh who has an open bank account. There is no way
to trace him. He’s gone. And in the case of a scam, so is your money.

Please read Western Union’s Consumer Fraud Awareness page.

Federal Counterfeit Check law

The laws that affect you as the holder of a Nigerian Counterfeit Check US Criminal Code, Title 18, Section 113

Sec. 472. – Uttering counterfeit obligations or securities

Whoever, with intent to defraud, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter; publish, or sell, or with like intent brings into the United States or keeps in possession or conceals any falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Sec. 473. – Dealing in counterfeit obligations or securities

Whoever buys, sells, exchanges, transfers, receives, or delivers any false, forged, counterfeited, or altered obligation or other security of the United States, with the intent that the same be passed, published, or used as true and genuine, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Sec. 479. – Uttering counterfeit foreign obligations or securities

Whoever, within the United States, knowingly and with intent to defraud, utters, passes, or puts off, in payment or negotiation, any false, forged, or counterfeited bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, or promise to pay, mentioned in section 478 of this title, whether or not the same was made, altered, forged, or counterfeited within the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both

Sec. 480. – Possessing counterfeit foreign obligations or securities

Whoever, within the United States, knowingly and with intent to defraud, possesses or delivers any false, forged, or counterfeit bond, certificate, obligation, security, treasury note, bill, promise to pay, bank note, or bill issued by a bank or corporation of any foreign country, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Legal Information Institute (LLI): US Code Collection, Title 18. Part I. Chapter 25 – Counterfeiting and Forgery

Request for US national bank guidelines for Nigerian 419
counterfeit check fraud

Letter from Fraud-Aid to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Subject: National Banks and Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud’ Reply from the QCC; Redirection and instructions for correct email address

From: “annie mcguire” anniemcguire@fraudaid.com
To: Customer.Assistance@occ.treas.gov
Subject: Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 12:46:07 -0800

Dear Customer Assistance:

My name is Annie McGuire. The name of my web site is Fraud-Aid.com (www.fraudaid.com).
which has from 5,000 to 8,000+ page views per day. I am a free Fraud Victim Advocate.

Every day I receive email from victims of Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud. People who have been arrested (despite warnings sent to all law enforcement jurisdictions by the Secret Service), forced into bankruptcy, lost their jobs, lost their homes and more because of the action taken against them by their bank.

I have been given to understand that as of June, 2003, more than $25M had been lost by banks due to this fraud. I am sure that by now that amount has tripled or quadrupled.

And yet, banks post no warnings. Tellers are not trained. Bank officers are ignorant of the scam. It is far, far less expensive to have small warning signs posted at each teller window, and to train said tellers, than to lose massive amounts of money and create devastation in the community. Victim depositors are very angry. In fact, they are furious.

I have just read your online PDF, Check Fraud: A Guide to Avoiding Losses. This document does not deal with Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud. Banks have not been provided with any guidelines whatsoever.

Can you provide me with a statement of action on the part of the Comptroller designed to ameliorate the damage caused to victims of this fraud? A repayment guideline for victims and pro-active commitment on the part of national banks to train their tellers and warn their customers?

If you can provide me with a positive statement, I will post it on my web site in the Nigerian Counterfeit Fraud section:

http://www.fraudaid.com/ScamSpeak/Niqerian/niqeriancounterfeitcheckfraud-01.htm.

If you cannot provide me with a positive statement, but can give me one that explains the challenges being faced by national banks, then I will post that. Any information is better than leaving people in the dark.

Thank you for your time, your consideration, and your courtesy in reviewing my request.

Respectfully,

Annie McGuire

From: “OMBD Customer Assistance” Customer.Assistance@occ.treas.gov
To: “‘annie mcguire'” fraudaid@earthlink.net (old email address)
Subject: RE: Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 18: 19: 19 -0500

Dear Ms. McGuire,

This is in response to your Internet correspondence to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Customer Assistance Group (CAG). CAG answers questions and assists consumers in resolving complaints against national banks. The focus of the OCC’s review of consumer complaints against national banks is to determine whether the banks’ actions are consistent with banking statutes, regulations or any policies that are applicable to nationally chartered banking institutions.

Your email deals with issues that cannot be addressed by the Customer Assistance Group. It would be best for you to request assistance by going to the OCC website at www.occ.treas.gov and click on the “Contact the OCC” link at the top of the page. When that page loads, scroll down and click the “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Public Affairs/Communications Division” link. You can then send a direct email with your questions and concerns to the proper departments and request their assistance.

I trust this is responsive to your inquiry.

Sincerely,

Customer Assistance Group
Here is the email address indicated in the above letter: foia-pa@occ.treas.qov. Please stand by
for their response;

The scam is composed of the following parties:

1. Scam ring members are as follows:

(a) The scammers who “run” the job seeker victims via email and cell phone.

(b) The scammers who send the counterfeit checks or money orders to the job seeker victims.

(c) The scammers who wire funds into the job seeker victim’s bank account or credit card account.

(d) Hackers.

(e) Identity Theft Black Market Database owners.

2. The job seeker hired as a Payment Processor: victim.

3. Bank account holders: victims as follows:

(a) Checking or savings account holders.

(b) Credit card account holders.

(c) Buyers of items sold on auction sites or through Classified ads (on or offline).

4. The drawee banks: victims.

5. The job seeker’s bank: victim.

6. Western Union or MoneyGram (occasionally the job seeker victim is instructed to wire the funds bank-to-bank, particularly if the funds are to be sent to Asia).

The scam is composed of the following elements:

1. Persuading a job seeker to respond to an employment ad hiring Payment Processors for a foreign company at 5% to 20% commission for each payment processed.

2. Stealing the personal information of the job seeker and gaining access to his or her computer through malware embedded in the email correspondence, or embedded in the HTML of a fake corporate web site.

3. Selling that information into Identity Theft Black Market Databases.

4. Making the job seeker believe he or she has been hired by a legitimate foreign company as a Payment Processor. The job seeker is now a job seeker victim.

5. Sending funds from account holder victims to the job seeker victim in the form of counterfeit paper instruments or wire transfer of funds stolen from an account holder’s (Identity Theft victim) checking or credit card account. When funds are wired directly into the job seeker victim’s bank account or credit card account, or when the job seeker victim is sent an electronic check, the account holder victims are also Identity Theft victims.

6. Instructing the job seeker victim to wire all but 5% to 20% to various so-called company officers or company authorized personnel, and to do this by Western Union, Moneygram, or bank-to-bank transfer.

7. Getting the victim to do this as often as possible before the scam is discovered either by the victim, the victim’s bank, or law enforcement. WARNING: if any of the above list is familiar to you either personally or as it relates to someone you know, STOP now and read this: Know Your Miranda Rights and How to Use Them.

Where are the scammers? Regardless of where the scammers state they are located in their emails, they are in fraud rings all over Western Europe, Central Europe (Former Soviet Union countries), and West Africa. They are in Canada and the US. The scammers are not always foreigners – persons native to the target country are involved in the scam rings, too!

These scams will soon be coming from fraud rings in South Korea, Malaysia, Beijing.

The scammers use cell phones for voice communication. Since cell phone services allow for roaming, although a scammer may state that he is in London or Florida or Texas, he can actually be calling from anywhere.

The scammers use misdirection, spoofing, and open proxy blinds to send their emails. Unless one is adept at reading and interpreting full email headers (the entire path an email follows from the scammer’s computer to the victim’s computer) such as a trained fraud examiner or enforcement investigator, it is impossible to determine that the email was sent from any location other than that stated by the scammer.

What they tell the truth about: The scammers are telling you the truth only when they state that
they want you to receive checks, money orders, money by bank wire or online transfer directly into your bank account or credit card account. If paper instruments are used, they want you to deposit them into a business account or personal account. Then they want you to send all the money to them except for your 5% to 20% “commission.

What they lie about: Everything else.

What they are really doing: They are using you as an unwitting intermediary to further either theft or laundering of money on an international scale. If you or someone you know is involved in this scam, please read Know Your Miranda Riqhts or Warning and How to Use Them right now.

Who are the scammers’ targets? They are most successful with single mothers, students, people who are disabled or handicapped, retirees, people on fixed incomes, people having trouble making ends meet, cottage industry owners and others who already have a work-at-home business, people who have a limited understanding of the banking system or good business accounting practices. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of victims across the US and no country is immune.

How do people find out about the job offers? Unsolicited emails. PrivateMessages. IM’s. Chat rooms, phony employment web sites, phony fund raising opportunities, job posting bulletin boards, help wanted bulleting boards, employment web sites like Monster.com, classified ads both on and offline in newspapers and magazines, posted on bulletin boards at grocery stores and Laundromats, everywhere and anywhere an employment opportunity message can be shared.

Where does the money come from? Funds wired into your account are stolen from innocent account holders through Identity Theft; electronic checks are ordered from an innocent account holder’s checking or credit card account through ID Theft. Funds also arrive from victim buyers who are instructed to wire their funds into your account.

Domestic and International Money orders are counterfeited in large quantities on foreign fraudster printing presses. Checks are counterfeited in large quantities on foreign fraudster printing presses. Unauthorized QChex are ordered by unverified QChex account holders. US Treasury checks are forged. Counterfeit cashier’s checks, personal checks, and corporate checks are used in this scam.

The money can come from someone who is buying a product through a Classifieds ad or auction site such as eBay. In that situation, the victim buyer is told to send his money to the victim payment processor (either by check, money order, MoneyGram, or bank to bank wire), who in turn is told to wire off all funds received except his or her 5% to 20% commission. The victim payment processor and the victim buyer are run either by the same scammer or by different members of the fraud ring.

Where does the money go? On the average, a Payment Processing Scam victim is sent anywhere from 1 to 6 checks before the fact that the funds aren’t legitimate is revealed by law enforcement or his/her bank. For each check, the Payment Processing victim is generally given a different overseas name and address for the Western Union wire. Sometimes the different names and addresses are given as being hubs or centers for processing client orders.

In fact, the job seeker victim is sending the funds through transfer systems that allows scammer ring members to pick up the funds almost anywhere.

Just because the funds are sent to a particular name at a particular location does not mean that the funds were picked up at that specific location, nor does it means that that the person picking up the funds is using his or her real name. Scammers use false identification all the time to pick up funds. Some transfer systems allow for pick up at any number of offices within the system since the funds may only be registered within a funds central, a hub if you will, servicing many different offices in the general area. NOTE: Funds wire through any electronic wiring system other than bank-to-bank are untraceable beyond the pick up location.

When the job seeker victim sends the funds he’s received via bank-to-bank transfer, that does not mean that the scammer is anywhere near that bank. Bank accounts can be opened using a combination of online banking and surface mail. Once the account is opened, through online banking the scammer, located anywhere in the world, can order the electronic transfer of the balance to any other bank in the world.

If the scam is being solely run by Romanian scammers, a portion of the money goes to the scam ring leader (often an ex-KGB officer) and back into the scam business, and the balance is spent on pleasure, clothes, high-priced cars, night-clubbing, etc.

If the scam is being run by Nigerian scammers or a Romanian/Nigerian combo, a portion goes to the scam ring leader, a portion goes back into the scam business, some goes for pleasure, and the balance may be spent on establishing and maintaining drug routes, supporting terrorist activities, and supporting kidnapping rings.

How did this scam get started? In February of 2003, second generation Nigerian scammers hit the Internet with the Nigerian Counterfeit Check scam, aka Overpayment Fraud. The basis of the fraud is to give the appearance of being the buyer for an item being sold in an online auction site
or through on or offline Classified ads, or a prospective new tenant placing a deposit on an apartment, or a bed and breakfast guest making reservations, or any number of other scenarios. The fake buyer tells the seller that he is sending a check for the amount of the item plus shipping expenses. Many other excuses are used for the overpayment. The scope of the fraud is described here: Nigerian Counterfeit Check Fraud.

A little less than a year later, fake job offers for Payment Processors began emanating from the Former Soviet Union countries (FSU) in a direct spin-off of the Nigerian Counterfeit Checks scam.

Romanian scam rings, made up of teenagers and young adults led by former KGB officers, latched on to the scam and made it their own. Currently, Romanian fraud rings and fraud rings located in other Former Soviet Union countries have joined forces with Nigerians scam rings and are working together from Romania, West Africa, South Africa, the UK (mostly England and Ireland), The Netherlands, the US, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and Australia.

The Romanians have brought their Identity Theft and hacking expertise contacts to the table, while the Nigerians have scam ring operatives in place in countries all over the world. The combination is dismaying in its economic impact on US society.

How does the scam work? The scammer places a want ad on the Internet or in newspapers and magazines. The ad describes that a foreign company needs a US representative to process payments for their US clients. See “How do people find the job offers ?” above for other methods used by the scammers to distribute the phony job offers.

A job seeker responds to the job offer, however he or she becomes aware of it, through the email address provided by the scammer.

The so-called employer (scamployer) provides any number of excuses for not being able to process payments in the company’s country. The reason this scam is so successful is that the scamployer claims to be in located in a country that Americans naturally associate either with repression, or recovering from the breakup of the USSR, or not as sophisticated as the US, or generally in a state of governmental and banking disarray.

The victim is asked to respond to the employment notice by submitting a resume to an email address. The requested information often includes full name, address, sex, telephone-cell-fax, bank account number, copy of Driver’s License and/or Passport, and occasionally a Social Security Number.

NOTE: During the string of correspondence between the scamployer and the job seeker victim, malware in the form of spyware and Trojans horses is inserted into the scamployer emails. The malware reports back to the Hacker who then has free access to the job seeker victim’s computer, including usernames, passwords, and all personal emails. Personal information from these emails may be applied at a later date for extortion and threat letters to the job seeker victim to make the victim feel he or she is in imminent danger.

In turn, the scamployer emails back an employment contract that ranges from the simple to the very sophisticated. Some contracts are almost non-existent in their brevity, while others are lengthy and have been flat out stolen from other contracts easily viewed or available on the Internet. Since the scammers are not using any real names or addresses and are basing their actions on intent to defraud, the contract is worthless.

The entire employment process is designed to take advantage of the job seeker’s ignorance of banking, laws governing fiduciary responsibility, and proper accounting procedures.

The scamployer* now emails a notice to the job seeker victim that funds will be arriving within 3 to 7 days. Included in the email are instructions to deposit the paper instrument and wire funds as soon as the check or money order has cleared** or a soon as the job seeker’s bank account is credited with the amount of the check or money order***.

If the scamployer has funds wired directly to the job seeker victim’s account, the email instructions will urge the victim to immediately send the funds by Western Union or bank-to-bank transfer upon receipt. Another pressure tactic is to urge the job seeker victim to cash the paper instruments at a check cashing store, grocery store, or to cash money orders at a Post Office. This is sometimes accompanied by a warning that the commission will be less if the wiring of the funds is delayed.

* scamployer: This may be one person pretending to be many, such as presenting himself in different emails as the employer and two or more other company employees such as officers working in fake order centers, a banker, and an attorney. It may be three or more people all pretending to be the same one. Many job seeker victims are run by the same ring at the same time using pre-designed scripts. The scripts allow different ring members to pick up the thread with anyone of the victims at any given time as necessary.

** cleared: A check is not actually cleared until the account holder says it is. The common usage for the word “cleared” is that the account contains enough money to cover the check when it is presented at the drawee bank. The account holder has up to one year to report a check as unauthorized, Le. stolen, forged, or counterfeit.

*** bank account is credited with the amount of the check or money order: In most instances, the money credited into a depositor’s account is from his own bank in good faith. It is not money that has arrived from the drawee bank. Therefore, the money in the deposit account is actually a no interest loan. It’s important to keep in mind that by law a depositor is wholly responsible for whatever he deposits into his account, and that includes funds wired into his account and funds deposited into the account by a 3rd , authorized party. It is the depositor’s responsibility to ensure the funds are legal and unencumbered, not the bank’s responsibility. A hold on deposited funds is for the purpose of determining whether or not the check will be financially honored upon presentation to the drawee bank, not to determine whether the check is counterfeit, stolen, or forged.

What elements to watch for – Red Flags:

• The Payment Processing Business scam is always either for Work at Home or Part Time Work.

• The job offer arrived through unsolicited email, snailmail, chatroom, Instant Message, Private Message, Private Chat Room, phony company web site, posted on job web sites, posted on Help Wanted bulletin boards, posted in Classifieds (on or offline), response to posted resumes.

• The hiring company is selling product internationally and needs a representative to accept checks in the customer’s country.

• The hiring company cannot process the checks it receives in its own country and needs someone outside the country to process the checks on its behalf. There is always a reason they cannot accept funds and want you to do so for them. There is no country in the world in which checks from another country cannot be cashed.

• NOTE: This scam is becoming so effective that new variations are being developed daily. Please keep in mind that it is NOT the names or the reason for needing a representative that are important. It is the INTENT. If the intent is to get you to accept funds from a person with whom you are NOT dealing directly, and send those funds off to someone else, then it is a scam. The acceptance and wiring of the funds is called MONEY LAUNDERING.

• The job does not require a knowledge of proper bookkeeping and accounting requirements.

• There is no requirement that you be bonded and insured.

• There is no background check performed to ensure that you are a trustworthy individual.

• There is no requirement that you be properly licensed and registered to accept their funds, account for them, and file the proper tax forms to report the income.

• There is no requirement that you open a bank account in the company’s name in a local bank to receive the funds, as is proper and usual.

• Checks are made out to you instead of the company. .

• Checks are made out to you without an exchange of product or service that you directly provided.

• Money are orders made out to you without an exchange of product or service that you directly provided.

• Funds that are wired into your account from a party to whom you did not directly provide your banking coordinates.

• A request by the company that you open an account in your name at a specific bank, such as Bank of America or Citibank.

• Any request that you transfer money you have accepted on their behalf by any means that is difficult to trace, Le. by Western Union, PayPal, MoneyGram, Money Order, bank-to-bank to a bank in a country other than that of the hiring company, or by any other method.

Never, ever, EVER cash a check for a stranger.

Never, ever, EVER accept any funds on behalf of someone else. Period.

Never, ever, EVER accept funds from one party and send them off to another. That is money laundering.

By accepting funds on behalf of another party you are taking full, legal, and responsible possession of those funds. Are you sure this is the kind of business you want to engage in with a complete stranger thousands of miles away?