Below, we’ve listed a few more types of scams. When reading these examples, you’ll notice that while the ways in which the victim is lured in are different and often change and evolve, the final part of these scams are all the same — the victim receives a counterfeit check and is asked to forward the funds outside the U.S. via Western Union, Money Gram or some other money transfer service.
Nigerian 419 Scam — This is the original scam from which all the others have developed, involving the victim receiving a letter, fax, or e-mail from someone claiming to be a high level government official from a foreign country, commonly Nigeria. Sometimes the scammer claims to be the wife of a high-ranking government official who has died or has been killed. The individual tells the victim that he or she has a large sum of money to invest in the United States. The scammer seeks the assistance of someone with a U.S. bank account to get the money into the country in exchange for a percentage of the money. After agreeing to help, the victim will be asked to wire money to pay expenses or to bribe officials to release the money. If the victim does not have the money, he or she will often be sent a check with instructions to cash or deposit it and then wire the money (usually via Western Union or Money Gram). Of course, the check is counterfeit and comes back after the money has been wired. This scam can escalate to huge sums of money, if the victim wires the “bribe money” from personal funds, which signals that the customer has money and can likely deposit a larger check without raising suspicion.
Work from Home Scam — The scammer places ads on job search sites or replies to those who post job wanted ads. Once connected with a victim, the scammer gives the details of the work. The scammer claims to be a foreign company and needs assistance in collecting their accounts receivable from their U.S. clients. All the victim is required to do is receive checks, deposit them, keep a percentage for themselves and forward the rest of the funds via wire to their employer. Obviously, the checks are counterfeit, and the victim is out the money.
Mystery Shopper Scam — In this variation on the “Work from Home Scam” the victim is hired to be a “Mystery Shopper.” The victim is sent a counterfeit check and instructed to use the funds to complete several transactions (the largest of which is a Western Union wire transfer) and to evaluate the service they receive. Of course, the wire is sent to the scammer, and the customer is stuck with the bad check. This scam puts tight time frames for completion and urges the victim to keep the assignment secret from everyone. Fake bank phone numbers are often printed on the face of the check.
Charitable Organization Scam — Scammers will surf the message boards of charitable organizations and gain the trust of an unsuspecting victim by claiming to be a born-again Christian, who has a large sum of money to invest in a Christian church or organization. From here, it evolves into the 419 scam in which money is needed to bribe government officials to facilitate the transaction.
Lonely Hearts Scam — Scammers surf personal ads or matchmaking websites for unsuspecting victims. They befriend someone and become involved in a cyber relationship. When the victim is hooked, the scammer asks for money to fly to the U.S. If the victim cannot or will not send it, he or she is sent a counterfeit check from a “relative” of the overseas companion to cash. The victim is asked to forward the money for a plane ticket that the scammer has no intent to purchase.
The Security and Privacy information contained on the Virginia Commerce Bank public Web site is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You should consult an appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation.