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Personal Assistant & Fake Check Employment Scam

[UPDATED 10/25/17 BELOW.] The Daily Scam would love to take credit for exposing this very clever fake check scam that recently targeted a Boston University student but all the credit goes to this very smart student name Jenni. We especially enjoyed how she strung out the scammer after she made up the story that she had deposited the bogus check!  Read all the texts below.  This is Jenni's story and we’re happy to report it to our readers...

“On May 17, 2016 I received an email to my university email address from someone named Mary Kennedy. [Using the email address: consulting.mary@gmail.com] She said she got my resume from the ‘Boston University resume book’ and was looking to hire a part-time personal assistant to perform tasks for her. She said she would need 10-20 hours a week and would pay me $20/hour. Being a college student, I was eager to earn some extra money in the summer, so I replied to her email saying I was interested in the job and asking for more specifics. She responded with more details about the job, with tasks like reviewing and sorting mail, running errands, mailing packages, etc. She also told me she did consulting for an engineering firm in Boston and was also working on starting her own business and was currently in New Zealand doing some research.“

redflag

[RED FLAG #1: In scams like this the criminal is usually outside the country and usually has an excuse why it isn’t possible to Skype.]

 

“I informed her of my availability to work and on May 19th and she said it sounded good and that she would be sending me a Cashier's Check with my payment as well as funds for doing these "errands." She told me I would receive payment for each week before I had performed any services. I gave her the mailing address of the place I was staying at the time and my phone number. “

 

redflag[RED FLAG #2: The scammers are eager to send a check for an amount that is usually between $2000 - $3000 without doing any serious background check, speaking by phone or skype, or verifying any information about the person he or she is about to hire. WHO DOES THAT IN REAL LIFE??]

 

“After that, we began texting (her phone number was from the Los Angeles area) and she asked for my bank account and routing numbers so that she could set up a direct deposit. I refused, saying I wasn't comfortable with giving out my bank account number. [She offered me a bank account and routing number that she said was hers and offered to exchange photo ID pictures if it would make me feel more secure. I looked up the routing number she gave me and found it was from a Wells Fargo bank, so I suggested that she could utilize the Wells Fargo SurePay service, to get money to me without me revealing my account information, but she said she could not due to trusts on the account and being overseas.“

 

redflag[TDS NOTE: Jenni is no fool! She did the right thing not to trust giving her banking account number out to a stranger and then investigating the information she was given. She offered a safe alternative which, of course, the scammer declined. RED FLAG #3]

 

“On May 22nd, we agreed to take no further action until I received a check in the mail. I then didn't hear from her until June 2nd. She emailed me to apologize for the delay. She said she had a "heart scare" and had been in the hospital but was mailing the check via the USPS, and provided me with a tracking number (9405501699320083369516). She said the Cashier’s Check would be in the amount of $2,482.00, to cover the costs of the errands as well as part of my payment. She said she would prefer to not pay me until I had done the things she asked me to do, but that she was paying me half up front as a show of good faith. The tracking information showed that the package had originated in Lacey, Washington.“

 

redflag[RED FLAG #4: Mary Kennedy said that she was in New Zealand conducting research. How did she manage to have a check sent to Jenni from Lacey, Washington using the U.S. Postal Service when she informed Jenni that she couldn’t even use Wells Fargo SurePay service because she was overseas?]

 

[RED FLAG #5: Why would anyone trust a complete stranger more than 9000 miles away with a check for $2,482? Mary didn’t require any background check, proof of identity, and was willing to send Jenni a large check after a few email and text exchanges! THIS IS ABSOLUTE CONFIRMATION THAT THIS IS A SCAM!]

 

“In the time between when the package was delivered (Friday, June 3rd) and when I picked it up (Tuesday, June 7th), I got many messages from ‘Mary’ asking if I had picked up/deposited the check yet. Additionally, she asked me if I had a PayPal account. I told her I did not and she never asked me about it again.

 

[TDS NOTE: In every fake check scam we have first-hand knowledge of, the scammers anxiously turn up the pressure and communication on the potential victim to deposit the check quickly and, if deposited, to then make the first requested payment for them. It is important to the scammers because there is usually only a window of several days before the bank discovers that the check is fraudulent.]

 

“I picked up the envelope from my school mail room on June 7th. It came in a USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope with a Cashier's Check inside in the amount of $2,482.00, issued from Silver State Schools Credit Union in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

check-to-Jenni

 

redflag[RED FLAG #6: “Mary” is in New Zealand. She manages to send a check from a credit union located in Las Vegas, Nevada through the U.S. Postal Service in Lacey, Washington. None of this adds up.]

“Up to this point, I was already highly skeptical of the entire thing. I was almost sure that it was a scam, but if it wasn't it would have been nice to have the extra money. I did a quick Internet search to find some ways to detect a fraudulent Cashier's Check and found several things missing from the one I had (no watermarks, no name of payee, no bank phone number, to name a few).“

 

As we said at the start, Jenni is smart and figured out pretty quickly that this was a scam. Many people don’t or don’t listen to their growing suspicions in their gut because they really need the income.

 

Jenni has provided TDS with the transcripts of her email exchanges with “Mary”, as well as their text message conversations. You can find both below. We’re very glad to know that Jenni didn’t get victimized and are grateful she shared her story with us. Do you know any young men and woman looking for extra income or employment? Share this story with them!

Jenni's email exchanges with Mary Kennedy (consulting.mary@gmail.com):

Jenni-email1 Jenni-email2 Jenni-email3 Jenni-email4 Jenni-email5

Jenni's text conversation with "Mary Kennedy":

Jenni-text1 Jenni-text2 Jenni-text3

Jenni-text4

Text-to-Jenni6 Text-to-Jenni7 Text-to-Jenni8 Text-to-Jenni9

 

On April 20, 2017 we received an email from a reader about this same type of scam contacting him through Houzz.com by someone named "Rose W. Davis" using the email address rosedavis024@zoho.com and looking for an interior decorator.  Here's the pitch.  The language used in the email is nearly identical to many of the Care.com scams we've written about.  We've italicized some of it below...

Hi,I'm Rose,I saw your contact on houzz  I need an interior decorator to do styling (staging) of items we have just ordered in our new apartment.

A Little about me my name is Rose .W. Davis,I attended Texas School for the Deaf where i achieved my highest qualification. I have my own business (Self Employed). I attend the catholic 36yrs and i am hard of hearing ....my younger brother lived with us his name is Steve here's #469 532-5760 he is always available  just in case you want to call.  I work based on the development and counseling of the deaf people in the community, I'm married and I have a two boys 7 months baby and 3yrs Sam. My husband is a Software Developer and System Engineer, We are in the process of relocating to Washington with my husband who based in London, UK he just secured a good job here and he's to resume on June 26th, 2017.

House description:-
Primary Style :Mediterranean-Modern
Living Area:3,877 sq.ft.   Width: 70'
Bedrooms:3 ,  Baths: 3,  Half Baths: 1
Foundation: Slab Depth 123' 4"

We have ordered for the furniture and home appliances, so all we need you to do is to make use of our supplies to do the interior decorating (furniture and electronics layout, artwork placement, kitchen utensils placements etc) once the orders are delivered. I do not have the floor-plan yet but I will try and get it soonest. Below are the items my husband ordered, I'll see if I can get the rest to you but these are the major ones:

Belmont Twelve Light Chandelier -3
Curtain Panels -5
Floor Pillow - 2
Window treatments - 3
Rug for living room 5' by 6' in size - 1
Collage wall hanging picture frame - 2
Traverse Semi-Flush Ceiling Fan - Brushed Steel 2
Maroneia TV Stand -1
3 Piece Coffee Table Set - 1
Chair and Ottoman Set - 1
5 Piece Dining Set - 1
Diamond Upholstery Panel Bed- 2
Duvet Set - 3
2 Piece Bath Rug Set
Cookware Sets
Bath linens and mirrors

The paintings have been done so you don't need to worry about that.  Where is your location or city? and I would like to know how much you are Willing to charge for your services and if you accept certified check for payment. I would appreciate it if you can get back to us soonest because we really want things sorted before our arrival.

I look forward to your response soonest.

Thanks
Rose .W. Davis

============================================================

Just like the email directly above, on May 16, 2017 we received another email from a reader named Barb who was also contacted by "Rose Davis" through Houzz.com through the email rosedavis024@zoho.com.  "Rose" was again looking for an interior decorator.  In the email above "Rose" is relocating to Washington.  Below she is relocating to California!

From: rosedavis024@zoho.com
Date: May 16, 2017 at 5:30:08 AM PDT
To: [REMOVED]
Subject: Web Form Inquiry
Reply-To: rosedavis024@zoho.com

comment: Hi,I\'m Rose,I saw your contact on houzz I need an interior decorator to do styling (staging) of items we have just ordered in our new apartment.
A Little about me my name is Rose Davis,I attended Texas School for the Deaf where i achieved my highest qualification. I have my own business (Self Employed). I attend the catholic 36yrs and i am hard of hearing ....my younger brother lived with us his name is Steve here\'s #469 532- 5760 he is always available just in case you want to call. I work based on the development and counseling of the deaf people in the community, I\'m married and I have a two boys 7 months baby and 3yrs Sam. My husband is a Software Developer and System Engineer, We are in the process of relocating to California with my husband who based in London, UK he just secured a good job here and he\'s to resume on August 28th, 2017.

House description:-
Primary Style :Mediterranean-Modern
Living Area:3,877 sq.ft. Width: 70\'
Bedrooms:3 , Baths: 3, Half Baths: 1
Foundation: Slab Depth 123\' 4\"

We have ordered for the furniture and home appliances, so all we need you to do is to make use of our supplies to do the interior decorating (furniture and electronics layout, artwork placement, kitchen utensils placements etc) once the orders are delivered. I do not have the floor-plan yet but I will try and get it soonest. Below are the items my husband ordered, I\'ll see if I can get the rest to you but these are the major ones:

Belmont Twelve Light Chandelier -3
Curtain Panels -5
Floor Pillow - 2
Window treatments - 3
Rug for living room 5\' by 6\' in size - 1
Collage wall hanging picture frame - 2
Traverse Semi-Flush Ceiling Fan - Brushed Steel 2
Maroneia TV Stand -1
3 Piece Coffee Table Set - 1
Chair and Ottoman Set - 1
5 Piece Dining Set - 1
Diamond Upholstery Panel Bed- 2
Duvet Set - 3
2 Piece Bath Rug Set
Cookware Sets
Bath linens and mirrors

The paintings have been done so you don\'t need to worry about that. Where is your location or city? and I would like to know how much you are Willing to charge for your services and if you accept certified check for payment. I would appreciate it if you can get back to us soonest because we really want things sorted before our arrival.
I look forward to your response soonest.
Thanks
Rose Davis
email: rosedavis024@zoho.com
name: Rose Davis
phone: 4695325760

==========================================================

One of our readers was contacted in on May 25, 2017 via text about a possible job. She was told to email a “Mikel Owen.” The text, she says, came from the odd number 1410200501, and identified as from Winniefred Arinze. After contacting Mikel Owen, our reader received the following email. Can you spot the red flags that strongly suggest this is a scam?

On May 25, 2017 10:02 AM, "mikel owen" <mikel.owen080@gmail.com> wrote:
Hello,

Thanks for your email and respond toward the housekeeping position. im so sorry for the late response.. My name is Mikel Owen my wife's name is Jennifer, she is a film artist and we are relocating to your neighborhood from Canada, I'm coming there with my wife to do some contract basis .. a year contract with possibility of extending the contract.I would have called you but i recently went in for my ear surgery and still recovery fast so i hope you don't mind if we communicate via email or text for now

However, I need someone who will help me to take care of the house by doing some house work while we are off to work. Someone that will also help in running some errand which includes -
Clean houses with a variety of chemicals, disinfectants, and machines.
Vacuum hardwood floors and carpet.
Sweep up debris.
Place fresh linens on bed.
Wash, fold, and stock towels.
Scrub stains, mold, and mildew from surfaces.
Empty wastebaskets and take out trash.
Wash dishes and put dishes away in cupboards.
Clean upholstered furniture and drapes.
Dust tables, wood surfaces, and shelves.
Clean and dust window treatments.
Stock kitchens with groceries and condiments.
Mop, polish, and wax floors.
Restock house with cleaning supplies.

I will be offering you $300 weekly payment, i will be needing your services for 3 hours at any suitable time of yours , between Mondays and Saturday. If you believe you are fit for this position in as much you will prove yourself to be a reliable ,responsible and good person, our clerk will be handling the payment and some other expenses. I will instruct him to pay for the first week before my arrival so as to secure your service

My financier Clerk will be making out a check to you before my arrival, which you will deduct your pay for the first week and you will be using the remaining to buy foodstuffs, Art galley, home appliance and other things needed in the house. Our arrival date is on the 26th of June.

We just bought the house and as soon as all the paper work is finalize and i will instruct my estate agent to mail the keys of the house to you so that you can do all other necessary preparations before we arrive, I will also email you the shopping list after you received check okay..

You have to get all this shopping before our arrival so that we wont have to start running around when we arrive, So my financier would be needing the following Information to make out the check

Full Name:
Full Address:
Phone number:
Days willing to work

All I need from you is total honesty and sincerity. I know you will be committed to the work, You will also have a nice period of time working with my wife. I will be waiting to hear from you.

Thanks


UPDATE June 22, 2017: A woman named Emily contacted us on June 22 about a job posted by Jason Robertson on Craigslist for an “Administrative Assistant.” She quickly became suspicious and then finally realized that it was a scam. She shared her email exchange with us…

 

On Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 5:26 PM, Emily wrote:

Hello,
I would like to submit my resume for the administrative position advertised on Craigslist. Throughout my career I have consistently driven myself to meet new challenges, and to achieve any and all goals set before me. With focus, drive, determination, and acute attention to detail, I offer your company decisive leadership, dedication, and commitment to excellence. Any task or project I undertake I consistently complete to the best of my ability.

I look forward to discussing your top-priority needs and the results you can expect from me. If you are looking for an honest, trustworthy, dedicated employee, I can be reached via phone or email at your convenience.

Thank you,
-Emily

Emily then received the following email and replied with the information requested: 

On Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 1:56 PM, Jason Robertson <minds@ggsratio.com> wrote:

Hi,
Personal Assistant Needed Immediately

I am a member staff of American International Group, Inc. NYSE: AIG, also known as AIG, is an American multinational insurance corporation. and I have an immediate need for an organized, efficient, & detail-oriented individual for the position of a Personal Assistant due to my high workloads and busy work schedule.

Duties & Responsibilities:

I need someone to assist me with the running of my everyday business errands and business tasks so that I can be more productive in my everyday business activities in order to better serve the immediate needs of my clients. This position will come with a great deal of responsibility and trust because I am opening a new office space/apartment in your area of location. The new office will be managed by the eligible person and my secretary. The eligible person will start work immediately from this new office alongside with my secretary by assisting me with running my business errands in my absence in his or her spare time as I am always out of town on business travel status. The major duties and responsibilities of the eligible person will be needed mostly during the weekdays at your own convenience and this will give you free time to go on with your regular job.

Requirement:

- Ideally educated- Minimum of High School or College Degree
- Good computer literacy, speed and accuracy essential.
- High level of professionalism, including reliability and discretion
- Able to work independently and produce high quality, accurate work
- Takes initiative, anticipates needs, and takes ownership of projects
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, both verbal and written
- Proven ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
- Flexible schedule and mature approach
- Honesty, promptness and dependability

Work Schedule:

You will work during the weekdays through flexible hours at your own convenience and this will give you free time to go on with your regular job

Pay/Salary:

Attractive salary of no less than $700 per week with other benefit.

*NB: If interested in this job and you will like to apply and start work immediately. Please fill the below JOB EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION FORM & QUESTIONNAIRE and submit back to me ASAP for quick review and evaluation purpose in consideration of a possible appointment i.e;

PERSONAL INFORMATION SECTION
*Your Full Name:​ Emily [REDACTED]
*Your Home/Mailing Address:​ [REDACTED]
*City, State and Zip:​ [REDACTED]
*Your Cell Phone Number: ​ [REDACTED]
*Your Email: ​ [REDACTED]
*Current Job:​   work from home & full time student​
*Are you willing to start work immediately ?​ YES​

All correspondences and reporting should be made, addressed and must be promptly reported to me in due course.

Regards,
Member staff- American International Group, Inc. NYSE
Jason Robertson

 

On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 7:15 AM, Jason Robertson <donkers@ggsratio.com> wrote:

As they say, punctuality is the soul of business. I believe promptness is key if any business is to thrive. I want to thank you for your prompt response and after much consideration, I have decided to give you a trial so as to know how honest, sincere, and confident you are, also to know if i can trust and confide in you, It is the 21st century, and the business industry is becoming more demanding by the second, Business owners need to be flexible,present, and accommodating to the needs of their customers, clients and partners.

In order to meet these demands, the business owner must double book their calendar; extend their normal business hours, while trying to squeeze in time to do all of the administrative duties. So this is the major reason why I need a reliable and sincere assistant, to enable me achieve and give the best to my business.

I will like to know how often you get on the internet because our job requires much checking of your email and do you have access to any instant messenger?

Your trial stage begins immediately you acknowledge this email and some payment will be sent to you for the first task as i mentioned in my initial email let me know when you are ready to start.

Also i will like you to answer the questionnaire below:

I need answers to these Questions.

  1. How many hours are you willing to Work per day?
  2. How often do you come on the internet ?
  3. Payroll Interval... (Weekly or Bi-weekly)?
  4. Are you employed at the moment ?
  5. what bank do you bank with?

Thank you.
Jason Robertson

On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 1:28 PM, Emily answered “Jason’s” questions and a few hours later received this reply from him:

From: Jason Robertson <donkers@ggsratio.com>
Date: Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 5:08 PM
Subject: Re: Office/Administrative Position
To: Emily

How are you doing , Hope fine? I really appreciate your prompt response and it shows how efficient and committed you are, I want you to understand that i will only be communicating with you online and mostly on instant messenger, text and sometimes call if necessary prior to my arrival.

I'll like to congratulate you once again and to inform you that I have forwarded your payment information to one of my client, he will be sending you the first check Today for your first assignment which you will be using the funds from the check to complete tasks for me while am still here, I will keep you posted on the tracking number as soon as i have it.

Your rapid response and sincerity is my main priority.

Kindly acknowledge the receipt of my email.
Thank you.
Jason Robertson

Emily then became suspicious that “Jason” would send her a check to deposit only after exchanging a few emails with her. She Googled some of the information in his emails and came upon our article. Fortunately, she found us before falling for this scammer.

Emily was then contacted by another 2 scams via Craigslist... From someone calling himself Randy Henderson, email: contactgrpinc.csr@gmail.com.  Randy claimed to be into "sales of wedding gowns."  Also, from "Williams Scott" (williamsscott11009@gmail.com)

UPDATE: On June 25th we were contacted by a woman who was being interviewed for a job she found on Indeed.  It was for a Retail Sales Associate role at T-Mobile.  But what made this so peculiar was that the email the woman received for an interview stated that it would be a 10 minute phone screening via a phone number that has been identified three times as a source of spam calls on EveryCaller.com.   Check out the email:

UPDATE October 25, 2017:
In late October a reader contacted us about a job offer for a "personal assistant" from someone claiming to represent a company called Ozan, specializing in the design, development and production of quality plastic injection moldings.  The whole thing is a scam created on the free webdesign site called wix.com at this account: https://thomas569bryan.wixsite.com/sirthomasbryan .  We've seen this scam before set up on this site.  The text reads....

Personal Assistant Needed Urgently

I own a company that specializes in the Design, Development and Production of Quality Plastic Injection Moldings for the Manufacturing Industries, because of my frequent travels and tight schedules, I'm in need of a Personal Assistant who will be working with me closely, I really need a helping hand with my daily schedule and activities.

Available Position: Personal Assistant

Type: Part-Time

Weekly Pay:$500

Duties:

• Perform official assignment to detail/ instruction.

• Creating orders/pick slips/invoices/credit memos.

• Running personal errands.

• Making Purchases, receiving and making payment

• Work independently without much supervision.

This position will be home-based and flexible part time job for some months before it turns full-time, You can be working from home or any location doing all your Personal Assistant activities, There will be no interview for this position until my office is fully set up, Only background check will be carried out,

Willing to take this job position? Fill the form below with your information for background check.

s2Member®