Just when you think you’ve seen it all…
(UPDATE: Visit our newer FEATURE ARTICLE about these Care.com scams.
Also, this story was updated on December 10, 2014. Scroll to the bottom to see additional news on it!)
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We know a recent college grad who’s been finding work tutoring, babysitting, and offering himself as a care-giver. He’s advertising himself through a variety of websites, such as Care.com.
In the middle of October, 2014 he was contacted through Care.com by a person calling herself Donna Worth. Donna continued to contact this young man via email. Check out Donna’s story:
On Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 3:36 PM, Donna Worth <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thank you for replying to my text. My name is Donna. I recently moved from San Diego to Ohio with my family but i`m moving to your area on 23rd of Oct and i will need a nanny for my son immediately. His name is Joe, 6years old and the time would be from 9am to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays only. This is a long term position but its fine to start temporary. Some weekdays are also flexible if you are available but we may need to discuss that in person. I`m willing to pay 18/hour. I believe its a great pay and i`m paying that much because i want quality care for my son. The start date is 25th of Oct.
I lost my husband and a 4months old baby in April. It was my late husband`s birthday and he decided to take the kids out while i was still at work. Joe happens to be the only survival from the accident but he currently uses a wheelchair. I have had terrible times in the last few months and this is one of the reasons i have decided to move because staying here brings back some sad memories. Kindly be honest if you have experience with childcare because i want the best care for Joe. I`m hard of hearing and can only communicate via writing, reading lips or text messaging. I hope that isn`t a problem? I`m easy going and love to laugh. I can send you a picture of me and joe in my next email.
It will be nice to read about you. I want a nanny who is willing to be a friend and family. Please note that i have a few applicants for this position but i made you our first choice so i wouldnt appreciate a waste of time. Make sure to include your complete name, address including zipcode and cell phone number in your response so i could check the map to read the distance between us also to have your address on file. You may ask questions in case you have any. I await your quick response.
Do you feel this woman’s pain yet? How terribly sad! The young man believed Donna and sent all his detailed information to contact her. He didn't see the “red flags” such as…
1. …can only communicate via writing ….or text messaging (In other words, no phone calls) (The young man should have asked to Skype or Facetime!)
2. Would a woman who’s lost a husband and son, put her only remaining wheel-chair bound six year old in the hands of someone she has never met in person? Unlikely!
Donna’s next email…
On Sat, Oct 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM, Donna Worth <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you for your email. Here is my own address 40 Links Rd Gloucester, MA We are moving in on 23rd of Oct. The sitting could be in our place but if you want Joe at your place, I wouldn't have any problem dropping him. You are free to do outdoors if you wish. I suggest that we meet on Friday 24th before you start working on Saturday 25th. That way we can get to know each other in person and share some interest about ourselves and the babysitting activities. As said in my previous email, the last couple of months hasn't been good and i wouldn't want to get stocked with my Son on arrival so i`m willing to make a deposit to you ahead of time to ensure a secured appointment to avoid disappointment. The total cost of your pay per weekend is $252($18/hour x 7hours/day = $126/day x 2days). I hope i can issue your first week deposit check
I hope there is no apartment num there and if there is,let me have your apartment num as well.
Kindly let me know if everything is clear so i may proceed. Also attached is a picture of me and Joe.
Do have a great day ahead and i await your quick response.
3. Another red flag: Donna’s broken English and poor grammar seem out-of-place and have deteriorated from her first email exchange. (We find that for many scammers, English is not a first language.)
The young man makes arrangements with Donna for the upcoming dates and meeting location. He is now hooked! Next, Donna pushes the scam:
On Oct 12, 2014, at 12:09 PM, Donna Worth <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thank you for your prompt response and i`m glad that we re on the same page. I have made arrangement to get Joe a powered wheelchair and i got a cheaper one in Los Angeles. I`m wondering if i could have the seller deliver it to you so you can help receive the wheelchair and pay the seller on delivery to ensure Joe have access to the chair immediately we arrive. The one he is currently using isnt ours so we re not moving with it. The wheelchair cost $2523, I will be sending you a check to cover your first weekend deposit payment and the cost of the wheelchair so you can take out your deposit and pay the cost of the wheelchair to the seller when she delivers it. After our meeting on Friday evening, We would go with you to pick it up. The check will be made in the amount of $2775. 252 will be for your deposit and the balance of 2523 will be paid to the wheelchair lady.
Please understand that the aim of having you purchase the wheelchair is to ensure that the wheelchair is available for Joe on arrival. The wheelchair isn't assembled. Its still packed in pieces so its not a big package at all and you do not need to assemble it unless you are willing to on the day we meet. Due to his condition, i wouldn't want any delay with the arrangement of the chair so you can let me know if everything is clear so i can go ahead with processing the payment. I truly appreciate you and i`m hoping for the best from you. I may not respond to email promptly but you can always text me. My cell # is (234) 206-XXXX (TDS removed) . Please do not forget that i`m hard of hearing so text only. NO CALLS! I await your email so i can proceed to mailing your check.
4. Red flags again…. NO CALLS!
5. And she wants to send you a check for $2775 because she trusts you. How nice!
As promised, Donna sent a check to the young man for the wheelchair and to pay, in advance, for his first weekend of work. Look carefully at the check and the FedEx delivery slip:
See any more red flags?
6. The check appears to be from the “National Flood Insurance Program” followed by U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Not from Donna Worth. Not even close!
7. The FedEx label says that the check was sent from Taylor Made Golf on 16 Morgan Road, Wilmington, MA. Didn’t Donna say she is in Ohio?
So what’s the scam?
The young man would, of course, deposit the check. A day later he would get a frantic text or email from Donna saying that her circumstances have changed and the entire move to Gloucester, MA has fallen through. She’ll ask him if he can wire her the money because she needs it badly. It’s OK because he has the check!
The check turns out to be bogus and if our young man had fallen for the scam, he would have wired $2775 of his own money to “Donna,” or whomever it is.
By the way, the young man's family could not get the FBI or the bank (who's name is on the check) interested in the scam. Nobody seemed to care.
Here are links to many others who have been impacted by this scam or others a lot like it.
Local College Student Duped by Nanny Scam – Fox 17 News, July 22, 2014
More links about Nanny Scams:
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UPDATES TO THIS STORY:
In the couple of months since posting this story, the same young man who was the target of the scam received a nearly identical scam to his account at Care.com. This time he recognized it for what it was:
From: Lisa Whitaker <lisawhitaker9090@TDS-REMOVED.com>
Date: Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 5:09 PM
Subject: RE: Tutoring Services
To: (TDS REMOVED CONTACT INFO)
I am lisa and i am hard hearing ,i have gone gone through your resume and I have made contacts with my Daughter concerning the arrangement of the tutoring which she told me is ok by her and I want you to know that i am going to pay for 1 month, which should be $45.00/hr(as I have in mind) And am planning that you will be teaching her 3 times a week,which is 2hr per day, so get back to me with the total fee and when you will be available to teach her during the week. I want you to tell me when you will be available to take her the Lesson, Time & Days.
Also to tell you that i was living in the states before in East Liverpool Ohio before i had to come back home to Japan , but now my job is bringing me back to the state , my Daughter will be coming to the states this week, also i want her to study more about what she need to know while she is in the states. She will be getting to the US on the ( 13th of December) and the Lesson will start the following week.
About My Daughter: Her name is Charlene, she is very gentle girl and easy going.. She will be staying in ( with a Nanny ) The Nanny will always bring her for the Lesson. I am Originally from Hong Kong so my daughter English is not Fluent but understanding. She is wanting to study more in USA but would love for her to be having this lesson first till i get to work things out with the school she wants to study more.
I want you to know that i will be sending you the payment inform of MONEY ORDERS/CHECKS for the tutorial while i will also have to pay the Nanny that will be taking care of Charlene while she is there, so as soon as you get the Payment cashed, you will deduct cost of tutoring of the lesson ( 1st month ) and send the remaining balance to the Nanny that will be taking care of Charlene which the information will be giving to you later. The Lesson will be taking for 6 to 8 Months but I pay for 1st month and The other month will be pay as the Lesson goes and by then I would work out her school.
Regarding this, kindly send your full information to receive the payment so it can be made out on-time. So hope i can trust you that you will teach my Daughter good Academics and some moral respects so that she can be good to people & herself. i hope i can count on you for the tutorial and the money to be sent to the Guardian. She so much Interested to learning.
PS: I will need you to give me nearest place to your home where you want the Lesson to be taking OR If your home is okay with you, the Nanny can bring her there too.
ADDRESS:( No P.O Box)
Awaits your reply.
In addition, we received another identical copy of this scam, along with a photo, from a woman who visited our website. Check it out below. The photo was of a woman with a young son in a red wheelchair in front of a brick apartment-style building. We tried to search for the photo online but were unable to locate it. Doesn't the scam below sound similar to the emails above?
Date: December 4, 2014 at 10:10:58 AM EST
Subject: Re: Care.com
From: kathryn carley <kathryncarley234@TDS-REMOVED.com>
To: TDS REMOVED CONTACT INFO
Thanks for your response.I live in phoenix but i am moving to your area on 14th of dec and i will need a Babysitter for my 6yrs old Son immediately between the hours of 8:30am to 1:30pm Monday`s through Friday`s.I hope you are available this hours but if you are not let me know your availability because i might still be needing your services on weekends and the time would be from 9am to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays only. I am willing to pay $15/hour and $18/hour on weekends I believe its a great pay and i`m paying that much because i want quality care for my son. I really need a honest and responsible caregiver for him. This could be a temporary/permanent job. It depends on what your schedule looks like and cooperation but i do like to be sure if you are available the first month.
I lost my husband and a 14months old baby in february. It was my late husband`s birthday and he decided to take the kids out while i was still at work. Jason happens to be the only survival from the accident but he currently uses a wheelchair. I have had terrible times in the last few months and this is one of the reasons i have decided to move to a new area because staying here brings back some sad memories. I am planning on getting him a powered wheelchair and have contacted a seller. I will let you know as soon as we finalize issues. I will like you to send me your complete name,address and cell phone number so i can include that to my payroll for the period. I also will like you to tell me a few things about yourself and your availability (weekdays or weekends). Here is a little about me. I am a single mother, I am 39 and i am hard of hearing and can communicate via writing, reading lips or text messaging. I attended phoenix School for the Deaf where i achieved my highest qualification. I have my own business (Self Employed). I attend the catholic. You will get to know more when we meet. Kindly include in your email your complete name,address and also your personal cell phone number so i can text you in case i need to pass an urgent information.