Lu recently decided she wanted to take on some new clients. She answered an ad looking for part time accounting help. She got this e-mail reply. She's sharp so she asked me to look it over because it sounded fishy to her. It is.
Subj: FILL OUT THE INFORMATION!!!!!!!
Thanks for the mail...Are you serious having this part time job? I
am looking for someone who can handle my personal and business errands
at his/her spare time. Someone who can offer me these services: Mail
services: Receive my mails and drop them off at UPS(nothing
illegal)Shop for Gifts Bill payment ( pay my bills on my behalf)Sit
for delivery( at your home) or pick items up at nearby post office at
your convenience. Let me know if you will be able to offer me any/all
of these services. Where are you located? I would love to meet up with
you to talk about this job but I am currently away on business. I am
in Australia so there will be no interview. I will prepay you in
advance to do my shopping. I will also have my mails and packages
forwarded to your address. If you will be unable to stay at your house
to get my mails, I can have it shipped to a post office near you and
then you can pick it up at your convenience. When you get my
mails/packages; you are required to mail them to where I want them
mailed to. You don't have to put money out of your pocket, all you
have to do is have packages shipped to your house and do my shopping.
You are allowed to open the packages to reveal its content. The
content of the packages are computer and electronics, clothing
business and personal letters..
All expenses and taxes will be covered by me. You will work between
15 and 20hrs a weekly. How much will you charge per weekly? I will
pay $300.00. That is not a bad offer is it? I need your service
because I am constantly out of town. I work in real estate and I own
an Art Gallery in Australia. I will return to in March 2011 so this
process will be on going till then. (Todays date is March 20, 2011. ed.)
If you don't mind, I will meet up with you when I return and then we can talk about the possibility of making this long term. Well, let me know if you are able to handle the
Hope to hear from you I will email you the list and pictures of
what to shop for when I am ready. No heavy packages is involved You
can do the shopping at any nearest stores. You will be shopping for
Electronics and clothing's.. I will provide you my personal UPS
account number for Shipping. All you have to do is provide my account
number to UPS and shipping charges will be applied into the account. I
will provide clear set of instructions for each task I need done as
well the funds to cover them. If I were to mail you money to do my
shopping plus upfront payment for your service, where would you want
it mailed to? How should your name appear on the money? Maybe you can
provide me with the following details below!! Also could you please
let me know if you do have personal bank account Yes Or No
This is an enticement. It looks and sounds fairly innocuous but it isn't. It's bait and switch. What will happen is he'll send a bunch of e-mails over a few weeks expressing his concern about her honesty and then finally send her a check, ask for certain purchases and ask for her to refund to him whatever is left over from her personal account. The one he asked if she had. The purchases are a cover, the job offer and $300 per week salary the bait. He may or may not ask her to send them but if he does she'll find out the UPS account has no money in it and he'll then ask her to cover those expenses out of the 'check' he has sent her. Probably not, this is about the money he can convince her to send him in the form of an 'overpay' and not the property. She'll get a big check in the mail with instructions to deposit it in her account along with a list of items to buy. The next e-mail will instruct her to mail the items to him but 'business issues' require the return of the balance, minus her salary of course. The switch.
I outlined the areas that scream scam in red. He wants to know where she lives, always a no no unless you're certain of the potential employer, if she has a personal bank account and personal, identifying information. Never give out such information to anyone you haven't met or can't verify their legitimacy. He's trying to allay any fears she may have that she's sending contraband but the items he's asking for, electronics and clothing, are readily available in Australia. Note the date of his return, March, 2011. She'll get later e-mails explaining how he's been unavoidably detained in Australia. They'll never meet but he's quick to tell her that he wants this to be a long term relationship. The language is stilted and the grammar and punctuation poor, not really believable if he's a Utah resident. Maybe but it's a real red flag. No mention of his local business account or bank. No mention of his local business at all. Again, red flag city. There's no way to verify anything.
I've seen this many times during my career. It's especially evil in times of economic hardship, when people are having a hard time finding jobs. These people know this and are using it to prey on the vulnerable.
My recommendation, and what I've advised Lu to do, is to answer thank you very much but no thanks. Make up an excuse, any excuse. Don't flame this guy. He may (and probably will) try to convince her some more and then move on to another person. If you really piss him off he may very well try to cause you more trouble than the exercise is worth. Check with your local PD and find out if they have, or know of, an agency that follows up on this type of crime (I'll be handling that for Lu). Make no mistake, this is an active attempt to commit a crime and one this guy (or more probably group of people) have committed many, many times and will continue until forced into something else.
Information and vigilance are the keys. If you have a concern, if that nagging little voice is speaking to you, listen to it and get some advice. I'm always willing and available to consult with anyone who has questions about stuff like this. These people really piss me off. The folks they most often victimize are those who are who are the most vulnerable to their enticements and who can least afford to be ripped off. Death is far too good for them.
That old saw is as valid today as it ever was. If it looks too good to be true it certainly is.