Victoria woman avoids scam

Sept. 4, 2010 at 4:04 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed a Craigslist related counterfeit check scam that nearly cheated a lady out of thousands of dollars. This week, we heard from a Victoria resident who was nearly scammed with a similar promotion. Like the first case, the intended victim placed an ad to sell some items.

Instead of Craigslist, this ad appeared in the newspaper. She received a phone call from a man supposedly in Fort Worth. He wanted her e-mail address in order to send her information and receive information about the items. He said he would send the victim a check. The items were priced at $500. He sent two money orders for $975 each. The victim was to cash them, keep $500 and give the delivery man the rest. Fortunately, the intended victim smelled a rat.

As you probably know, if the intended victim cashed the checks, they would be returned to the bank and the victim would be out the entire amount. As our wise intended victim said to me, "We really have to be careful today. A lot of people out there, trying to get something for nothing."

Money transfers can be convenient when you want to send funds to someone you know, like a trusted friend or relative. But money transfers are extremely risky when you're dealing with a stranger or an unfamiliar business.

Money transfers happen to be the preferred payment method of scammers. Why? Simply because wiring money is fast, irreversible and virtually untraceable. A victim may not be aware for days, sometimes even weeks that they have become a victim of a scam. Scammers know they can pick up the money at virtually any location, so it's just about impossible to pinpoint exactly where the scammers are operating in time to stop the transaction. Bottom line: If some stranger wants you to wire money - beware.

Phony soldiers

Scammers pretending to be members of the military are wooing women on Internet dating and social networking sites, but they aren't looking for love - they are looking for money.

According to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command, these scammers are using real military photos to create fake profiles and they have received hundreds of complaints in the last year about the scam. Some scammers have even used photos of military members that have passed away.

The Command reports that con artists build relationships with women and then start asking for money for things like Internet use, phones, leave papers, money to enable them to come visit the victim, etc. Once the women send the money, they never hear from the "man" again.

Fake UN jobs

A new scam has appeared. The scam involves phony job offers with the UN Members of the military seem to be especially targeted. According to the UN's Department of Public Information, there have been a number of scams recently misusing the United Nation's name and emblem on correspondence, websites and e-mails circulating worldwide. As always with scams, the intent is to acquire money and/or personal information from those who take the bait. The UN wants the public to know that:

If you are looking for a job with them, they do not charge a fee at any stage of their recruitment process.

The United Nations does not concern itself with information on bank accounts."

The UN does not request information from individuals about their bank accounts or other private information.

The UN does not offer jobs, prizes, awards, funds, certificates or scholarships through unsolicited email, mail, fax or phone calls. Officially authorized UN offers would be communicated only through official channels. The UN does not conduct lotteries or compensate victims of fraud.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at abligh@corpuschristi.



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