Seniors Can be Easy Victims for Scams
Written by “Tony George” (name changed to protect his identity by his request)
This is a recent example of a scam that happened to a senior who is very knowledgeable about computers and about life that he wants to share how easy it is to get scammed.
I received a request to do research via email to my email address if I would like to earn $300 in cash. Knowing that I have been involved in research before for prostate cancer study for 12 years recently as a volunteer, I answered yes and this time would earn $300 which would be good to have for my 3 week vacation.
About two weeks passed and an email from Carrol Maine (firstname.lastname@example.org) came to me with the instructions, see below for copy of email correspondence.
A check would be in the mail to mail and a detail of my research would be sent.
I received the check for $2280 and did not understand why so large an amount so I sent Carrol Maine an email stating that the check was far more than the $300. He answered me to cash the check and keep $300 for my services and any additional expenses and use the rest for the research work I was to do.
Before cashing the check, I wanted to verify that this was all legit. I used the computer to check out the BBB Accreditation.
I verified that business was a reputable company by googling BBB from the information I had on the check. They have been a 5 star rating and Accredited Business since 8/25/2011.
BBB has determined that company meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public. BBB accreditation does not mean that the business’ products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business’ product quality or competency in performing services.
Reason for Rating
BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.
Factors that raised the rating for the company include:
- Length of time business has been operating
- No complaints filed with BBB
I also verified that the NLS Research, LLC was real by googling the website: http://nlsresearch.com/ it is a valid company as I saw on the website.
On June 8th, I stopped at my bank and cashed the check. With $2280 in my hands, I went to the Western Union Table and filled out the documents to send the balance of the money to. I kept a record of the times for the research to do everything and did not tell the bank teller what I was doing as per my instructions for the research.
About a week later, I had this funny bad feeling about what I did was a scam. So on the evening of 6/16/15 I checked my bank account on line and learned my checking account had zero balance.
6/17/15 I called my bank branch from Arizona and was told to call again and go to the “bank disputes department”. They told me there was nothing the bank can do since I am liable for bad checks I cash and this was a bad check. I was lucky I had protection for overdrawn situations which I have never used before and the $675 overdrawn amount went to a debit card. The bank told me to call Western Union. I had a $25 fee for draft fee and bad check charged to my account. I had the bank transfer money from my savings to checking account.
6-17-15 spoke with Western Union Consumer Protection. Filed my report and received a report # and was told to go to my State Attorney General’s Website and make report to AG. I found the number to contact Ohio AG’s Office and spoke with Erin who took my information and gave me a Complaint Number. Went to Consumer.email@example.com and sent attachments including email I communicated with scammer, Carrol Maine. I had a copy of the scanned Western Union Transaction Receipt for future reference.
I Called the Company on 6/17/15 where the bad check was from written from. I was told they had placed a hold on this account. Evidently, this has happened to them before. I had scanned a copy of the check and kept it in my computer for future reference.
From: Carrol Maine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Tony George
Sent: Tue, Jun 2, 2015 3:49 pm
Subject: Re: Funds Received
The Check received includes both compensation and funds for this survey, follow the instructions below to complete the survey.
- Have the received check cashed at your bank.
- Take out your compensation of $300
Take the rest of the funds after deduction of your compensation to the nearest Western Union outlet in your area and have it transferred to the information below using their Money In Minutes service. Deduct whatever fee they charge you for using their
service from the amount to be transferred.
Name: Eric Santos
Destination: 1201 Pacific Avenue, Suite 500, Tacoma, Washington, 98402
While making the transfer, observe the following: How long it took you to get service and customer service professionalism during the transfer process, under no circumstance should the Western Union Agent(s) know this evaluation is being carried out on them.
Email me with the following information as soon as the transfer is completed:
Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN):
Name and Address of Sender:
Western Union Location Surveyed:
A questionnaire regarding your overall experience with Western Union will be emailed to you after we receive the transfer information.
Thank you and get back to me as soon as the survey is completed today.
On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 12:25 PM, Tony George wrote:
Funds received today in an amount greater than $300. I leave for vacation June 9th until July and if you can get the materials to me by Monday, I can take them with me or email them to me.
What did I learn from this that could help others?
- Never do anything that is too good to be true
- Anytime you have a request to use the Western Union, US Postal Money Order, or Certified Bank Check, DON’T do it, 99.9% will be a scam.
- I could have went a little further to save me from this $2000 disaster by calling the Company where the check was written from and verified that the check was bad.
- Also, another thing I could have done was to call the research company and found out both numbers on the website were disconnected.