The craigslist job turns out to be a scam.
I'm pissed off, frustrated, generally disgusted at the situation and at the fact that these parasites exist, sad, depressed... Ugh, I could go on about how I feel, but I won't. I'll just give you the facts.
First of all, I've been scammed once before in a situation much like this one, so I learned my lesson, and I can tell you that there are red flags that will alert you when something is a scam. When I was living in MD with Mr._C., we had a joint bank account with Bank of America. This was maybe a couple of years ago now. Mr._C. and I knew this couple down there. I'll call the guy B and the girl S. S was looking for a job and found something about being a secret shopper. It sounded legitimate enough - I know that being a secret shopper is a real thing. There are secret shoppers who work for all sorts of major companies, and it wasn't like I had never heard the term "secret shopper" before. In fact, after this all happened - within the last six months, I'd say - my mom was fired from her part-time job at Five Guys Burgers and Fries because she failed a secret shopper test. So secret shoppers do exist, and one can become a secret shopper, so at the time when S was looking for a job and found this one, nobody thought anything of it. She was sent a large check and had directions to go to Walmart, spend part of the money, use an evaluation thing to rate their performance and quality of service while she acted like a regular customer, etc. The whole nine yards.
Here's how Mr._C. and I got scammed. S didn't have a bank account and essentially had no way to cash the check she was sent. So Mr._C. deposited the check into our bank account. He waited until the next day, went to the bank, spoke with a teller, and withdrew the amount of the check that had been deposited. (This was a universally stupid move, and I am wary about having a joint account with Mr._C. to this day. It makes me very, very nervous.) S took the money, went to Walmart, and did what she was told to do. Within the next week, I received a letter from Bank of America that told me that a check that had been deposited recently was counterfeit and that I now owed Bank of America almost $3,000 to cover the amount of the check that had been withdrawn from our account. The bank had taken what was in our account - a little over $500 - to cover part of the check, but we still owed the bank just over $2,000 to pay for the rest. It was a scam, and we had been suckers and fell for it - Mr._C. and I, B, and S fell right into the trap.
Once we found out we had been scammed, we called the local police and had an officer come to our apartment so we could file a report. We have copies of paperwork in a folder still, and we gave the officer our statement - but as far as I know, nothing came of the report we filed. These scammers are so difficult to track that it's virtually impossible to figure out who they are or catch them.
I haven't paid the rest of that money to Bank of America, and I don't think I ever will. After a couple of years of owing this money, my credit score - as far as I can tell - hasn't suffered for it, and they haven't taken any legal action against me. IMO, I'm a victim just as much as the bank is, and their fraud protection measures didn't protect me from fraud. There was absolutely no hold on the check - and there should have been on a check that large, IMO. And I have the letter from the bank that says the check was counterfeit. I've filed the police report, and if I ever need to defend myself, I'll hire a lawyer, but it hasn't come to that, and I doubt it ever will since it has been so long without any action being taken by the bank. I'm assuming that they decided to cut their losses, take the $500 or so that they could get from our account, and drop the whole thing.
Like I said, I've been scammed before and have learned my lesson.
So how did I figure out that this craigslist thing is a scam? Well, it would help if you have already read the first part of this story. Picking up where I left off, my new boss had assured me that I would no longer be posting ads on craigslist and that he'd find something else for me to do. My next task was going to be to run down to Office Max in Harrisburg to place an order for office supplies for a client. He also tells me that he hopes I'll receive a check for my first week of work by Wednesday of this past week. I'm expecting him to e-mail a list of what I'll need to order, but he says that the client will be giving him the list once I have the money to pay for the order.
I was constantly kept waiting.
By Wednesday, I hadn't received a check, and I still didn't have the list for the order. I e-mailed my new boss and asked for the list again and told him that I hadn't received the check yet. He assured me that the check was coming and said that he would compose an e-mail to me regarding the list right then. I received an e-mail from my new boss, but it didn't contain the list. Instead, there were only instructions about handling the check. He said that I should take it to my bank and either cash the check or deposit it for next-day clearance so that I could withdraw the money. He provided the tracking number as the envelope was being sent via UPS. That's when things started to get fishy and when I started to become suspicious, so I went back to the first e-mail I received from my new boss and did some investigating. All of a sudden, I saw red flags where I hadn't seen them before.
In the first e-mail I received from my new boss, he gave me a phone number. I decided to call the number - I just had a hunch. Just as I thought, it didn't work. The message I hear says, "I'm sorry, but I cannot complete your call," in a recorded message before the calls ends by itself.
He also had told me that his company has a Web site but that it's "under construction." Hmmmm... How convenient.
So I tried the tracking number for the envelope containing the check that I was to receive. The package had just been sent on Wednesday, so how was I to receive it by Wednesday? Plus, the package had been sent from Florida. My new boss claimed to be based in Texas. Another discrepancy. And when I received the package, the return address was in North Carolina. And the address on the check itself was in Arizona. So I have addresses in four different states. Not only that, but all of the names were different, too. My new boss had one name, but the package was sent by someone else, and the check was signed by a third person. And - the company name on the check was not the name of the company that my new boss had provided. Finally, instead of the check being made out in the amount of $530, which was decided on as my weekly wage, the check was for $3,850. (My new boss later told me that the rest of the money was to be used for the Office Max order.)
I called the state police to file a report. They confirmed that it was a scam and told me to contact my local police, so I did. I filed a report with details. I advised the woman on the phone that I still have a few e-mails from my new boss if there was any way to track his IP address via e-mail. She said that she'd leave the report for an officer and that I might receive a phone call if they wanted more details or if I should bring them my laptop. She advised me to keep the e-mails until further notice. She also asked if I had lost any money yet, and I told her that I hadn't lost or taken any money and didn't plan to deposit the check at all. I said simply that I had been scammed before and had learned my lesson.
Luckily, because of the secret shopper scam, I was pretty gun shy from the start. I didn't give out much information. Just the information on my resume - my name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. I also gave him my Yahoo! Messenger username so that we could communicate that way. I didn't provide any bank information, credit card or account numbers, or my social security number. And I didn't deposit the check. I don't think there's a way he can scam me with the information I provided. And I've filed the police report, so I feel like I at least have someone on my side.
But I'm keeping him on the hook as long as I can. I don't want him to know that I know he's a scammer - just in case there's something the police can do. I talked to my new boss on Yahoo! Messenger yesterday and told him that I had deposited the check and had to wait 5-7 days for the check to clear. I said that I had asked the teller when I had deposited it. It's a completely lie, and I hadn't even gone into the bank, but I wanted to gauge his reaction more than anything. The first thing he said was that he didn't think it would take that long and that I could have just cashed it or that I could get next-day clearance, but I told him I was more comfortable just allowing the money to show up in my account after the check had cleared. Then, he said that he understood and that I should check my account every day, and he seemed to let it go after that. But later, before the conversation ended, he reminded me to let him know when I had the money.
He made small talk - he asked if I had plans for the weekend. I played along. I told him that it was supposed to be very hot and humid and that I planned to stay inside as much as I can. He's supposedly in China working with some business partners for the next couple of weeks (Yeah, right...), so I asked him about the weather in China and said that I have never been there (which I haven't). He took too long to respond - probably checking the weather online so that he could be accurate - and told me that the weather was cool and that it had been raining since the morning but that he liked that kind of weather and was excited to go see some sights this weekend. I told him that he should take lots of pictures, the conversation ended, and we signed off.
What a fucking bastard parasite, I thought to myself.
The worst part of this scam, IMO, is the idea that I've been a part of it. I'd be willing to bet that all of those ads I posted on craigslist were for this scam. I bet I was just one of probably dozens of people (or more!) who are out there posting these ads, thinking it's a legitimate job, getting scammed, and realizing later that they were helping all along to scam others. I posted 50-60 ads - so how many people have seen them by now? How many others are being scammed right at this moment because of the ads I posted? I feel terrible just thinking about it. If I had the e-mail addresses for the accounts I used on craigslist, I'd contact the site right now and report the scam and ask them to disable those accounts. But I deleted the documents once the task was completed, and I don't know if there's a way to recover them. They've already been emptied from my Recycle Bin. If anybody knows how I can recover those documents, please - PLEASE - help me so that I can report the accounts to craigslist and keep others from being scammed because of the ads I posted. I'm also going to try to contact the company on the check as they are a legitimate company, and I'm going to try to contact JP Morgan Chase Bank as that's the bank listed on the check.
I just want to tear my hair out or cry or something over the fact that I can't seem to turn my life around since I moved back to Pennsylvania. This is where I want to be - with Mr._C. and near my family - but I just can't seem to get it together. I apply for jobs but get no responses - not even form letters that say that the position has been filled or that the company found a more qualified candidate. I feel like I made a huge mistake when I resigned from my teaching job in MD. I feel like I made a huge mistake when I quit my job at AT&T.
I did see an ad in my local newspaper for a copy editor (for a different newspaper ), so I'm going to apply for that job and see what happens.
But if you're reading this blog entry, please protect yourself against these degenerates of society - these parasites who will prey on you for all they can steal - and learn to recognize the red flags. plymouth2011 recently posted a blog entry entitled "SCAMMERS." You can read his entry here. It outlines some of the types of scams that are out there and gives you some tips for recognizing scammers.
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