I thought I would catch you up with what has been a most amazeballs day. Some of you may have heard about this morning’s visit from an angel. If you didn’t, well… here’s what went down. And there is more.
A little background – my husband lost his job this fall, and I’ve been doing freelance work. One of my clients that I created a corporate video for fell on hard times, and she has not been able to pay me yet. It’s quite a hefty total, a few grand. I’m sure she’s good for it, she’s just in a pickle… but I’m now in the jar with her, for when she cannot pay me, I cannot pay others. It’s been a tough go. Then there are things like rent and utilities. Catnip. I don’t sleep much these days. You know that fiscal cliff you keep hearing about? We’re not on the edge of it, we’ve been shoved off of it and are plummeting to the ground without a parachute.
Understandably, I’m a little emotional. This morning, there was a knock at the door. It was a FedEx guy with an envelope. For me. I open it, and inside is a check for almost $2600.00. I’m stunned. I lose all reason and go completely emo-gurl, and issue Facebook posts like this:
And, of course, log onto Twitter as well.
Then, reason sinks in. I begin to question things: Who knows how things are? Who cares? And who has that kind of money to throw to a total stranger?
Valid questions. It takes me awhile to get there, because I know pretty cool people that have done pretty amazing things. Eventually, I get my brain on.
On the FedEx envelope is a phone number. I Google it, and lo and behold, what pops up but “Educate a Child.”
Ah. All was clear. I was caught in the middle of a Nigerian Scam. Snared, like one of the rabbits in Watership Down.
A few weeks ago, I applied for a job as a Virtual Assistant. A few days later, I heard from a “Tony McKenzie” of Educate a Child. He said that he had reviewed my resume and would like for me to work for their organization. Yay. He needed me to reply with my name, email, phone number and address.
A little odd, as that was all on my resume, but… okay. I went to the website, it looked legit, if a little sophomoric. EAC raises funds to educate children around the world. A noble cause, and one that is near and dear to my heart.
A day later, I received this email:
I cocked my head and thought “hmmm.” Really? No W-2? No phone or Skype interview, just hand over my Social Security number?
I returned to their website, and wrote down the names of “The Team,” then began my in-depth online research. Yes, the people were real. Yes, they raised money for children – through Operation Smile.
Operation Smile is a real non-profit that raises money to send medical teams around the world, mainly to third-world countries, to surgically repair facial deformities such as pronounced cleft lips and palates.
Two of the men featured on Educate a Child, “R” and “B,” are also featured on Operation Smile. What is really interesting is that the content about them on EAC is identical to the content about them on OS. Only the organization names have been changed.
Crafty little buggers. I emailed both Operation Smile and our local NBC affiliate. I’ve yet to hear back from either.
Nice little gift, eh?
About 30 minutes after receiving the angelic gift, about the time that reality was sinking in, I received this email:
Apparently, I am supposed to deposit this check into my account, then turn around and use the funds (minus my $400.00 “advance”) to purchase “materials” for my V.A. work. So Mr. McKenzie will have my banking information as well as my Social Security number, and be at will to drain my already humble account even further. Add to that, the check that was sent to me is most likely not the real deal.
I may be an Okie, I may say ain’t, but I ain’t no dumb hillbilly. On an interesting note, I wrote a treatment for a thriller that features a woman who exacts revenge upon Nigerian scammers… and almost loses her life in the process. If life imitates art, then 2013 looks to be quite exciting.
Why out myself and look like such a fool? Because I am angry. I am angry that these people are using children. There are millions of children in need, and these scum sucking bottom feeders are giving charities with noble and honest intentions a bad name. And I’m angry that they are using people down on their luck. People aren’t applying for jobs because they have too much time on their hands and need a hobby. Not in L.A. and not in this economic clime. They are applying for jobs because they need to earn honest wages and live debt-free.
I’m also angry at myself for letting my emotions overwhelm me when I first opened the envelope. I literally sank, trembling to the chair, tears of gratitude and disbelief pouring down my face… only to have the naked truth bitch-slap me minutes later.
Hmm. I suppose I’m not angry at myself, for at that moment, I believed in the goodness of people, which is the way I choose to live.
So, that’s why I am putting this out there. They had me duped – twice. Once when I got the faux job, and a second time today. I had planned to create a video, but that would take me all day to edit the way I wanted… and I need to get back to work.
What can you do? Share this with everyone you know. If they can sucker-punch me, you bet that there are people out there who are falling for the full monty. Tweet it, Facebook it, tell your mom, tell your friends.
I’m sorry that happened to you…
If I wasn’t in such a vulnerable state, my emo-gurl would not have ruled. I just got off of the phone with the doctor who issued the check. She was pretty upset; people have been trying to cash these checks all day. Am sending her a scan of it, so the Feds can get on it.
Good gravy! How freaking horrible! Nasty buggers. Would love to give them what for. I’m so happy you weren’t caught up by this and lose more than your patience and temper. And don’t feel bad about being overwhelmed by your emotions. If anything, this experience gave you the opportunity to let those emotions surface, be overcome, and then gave you an action to take to get rid of some frustration. And it’s just great that the action you chose to take was a positive one that will help others. Congratulations for being a wonderful person!
🙂 Hugs, Cat. Thank you!
Oh man, I saw those ads and almost applied for that “job” myself! Go get ’em, Annie. I think they messed with the wrong girl this time!! Sigh.
Adios 2012. May 2013 be better, MUCH better. For all of us!
I have to add, Lynn, that if this job advertisement came off as the real deal to you, too, then I don’t feel so bad for being temporarily suckered into it.
hey, this is a really important message to get out right now because folks have tried to cash in on sandy hook kids, too. but, i’d love to see a whole blog on the FLOWER deliver. was that a real story? did that happen to you or someone else?!?! … my take is, if you HAVEN’T been duped, your heart’s not open enough … ! … cheers, r.
Thank you, Robert. I’ve also heard there was a Newtown scam, which sickens me.
Slapped your site up on my FB page. I spit on their shoes for you!
Thank you! Spread the word! I am whipping out the frying pan… we’ll cook them!
What can the scammers do if you deposit the check that they’ve sent?
As mentioned, they’d have her bank account info and would quickly clean her out. This could include some money she didn’t yet have because in California, banks usually credit you part of a large check before its collected. When the check bounces, she’d be on the hook for the entire amount the criminals stole, including any part that represented a portion of the check pre-credited to her.
What’s worse is that even though she’d be a victim, it’s very unlikely that the bank would cancel repayment. In some cases, banks haven’t even given the victim much time before going after them. And since the criminals may not be in the US (if a true Nigerian scam), its not very likely that they’d ever come to justice.
The instructions were to deposit the check, contact them immediately, and use the funds to purchase “materials” from them… so it could amount to a triple whammy. Plus, some of the victims I have heard from provided their Employee ID Number (aka Social Security number), so in their cases, add identity threat to the mix. Very nasty people.
A great website. They hunt scammers and drain thier money… Fun reads…
One of the best get the scammers I have ever read was several years ago. I stumbled across it when I was researching scams. The blogger engaged the scammers (authentic Nigerians), often using broken southern slang, claiming to have a church who wanted to help them. He was able to manipulate them through several hoops… the grand finale was, per request, the scammers portraying the infamous Monty Python “Dead Parrot” sketch. Most awesome thing I have ever seen. Ever.
I guppied on a couple of these ads myself, or they came to me after I advertised on Craig’s List, while I was living in Oklahoma City, where I grew up. The checks I got were cashier’s checks, so I called the banks to verify them — all fake. No shame. You figured out the scam by doing basic research, which is just what you should have done.
That really sucks. I’m so sorry to hear. What goes around comes around so I hope the person who tried to scam you gets his soon.
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