Money for nothing - Do you accept checks?

I love that song (Dire Straits). Is also the reason why scams work so well (for the scammers).

The key of a good scam is to make the bait tasty and easy to get. Some of the most common are:

- Some member of a government in Africa or Middle East have money (millions) stashed somewhere. He/she needs your help to transfer it to your country, you'll get xx% for your help (but you have to pay the expenses).

- Dying person repents for being so selfish all his life and wants you to take his money and give it to charities (you have to pay for the transfer).

- Religious group wants some money to build a church, feed the poors, etc. I usually forward to them the messages from the dying guy.

- Bank officer finds out that an account is about to be closed because his owner dies in a car accident with all his close family, relatives, friends and neighbors (heck of a car). The account has a balance of several millions and your last name (what a surprise) is the same of the dead guy. You can pose as a far realtive and cash all of it (paying the expenses).

- Job offer!! Who would reject a good job offer? Nothing to do but cash checks and get your cut. Sweet deal.

This is the one I want to talk about today. Because there's been an increase in the number of these offers. Is a surprise for me because is not like the other scams, you need more preparation for this one, you need the checks and they have to be good enough to be deposited.
But let's start from the begining. The trick works like this, for whatever reason they'll send you checks. They can deposit them for the lamest excuses you could imagine, it doesn't matter. The point is that is a lot better for them if you deposit them, get the money, take your cut (usually 10%, if you get this offer ask for more) and send the rest by Western Union or Moneygram.
The check will bounce (obviously) and the bank will want its money back (but we're talking about your money now). Is hard for me to understand how does it work in the USA, in my country no bank would give me the cash before the check is completely cleared. Anyway, it works and that's why they scammers are doing it. This trick is common too in online auctions, with a twist. The scammer buys from you, he sends you the money up front, not because they trust you, just because they're eager to get the scam rolling. The check exceeds the amount you asked for, he blames his secretary, wife, whatever, who mixed up the checks and sent you the one meant for Mr X. But you don't have to worry about it, he trust you so much that he'll let you cash the check without sending the goods. All he wants in return is for you to make him a little favor and send the excess to Mr X (himself). You send the money, the check bounces...

The scam is getting popular now and I wonder why, how do they get all the checks?
I've got about 10 the last 2 weeks and they were all from UK. Unfortunately I reported the mail addresses of some and lost contact with them. I'm enrolling a couple to see how it works. Not sure what to do with the checks though, if I deposit them I may be commiting a crime.
I've tried UK police, I though they would be interested. If they can see the crime in progress they can trace the scammers, be in control all the time. I have their phone numbers too, all cell phones though.
But the police said no, report to the local authorities and stay away. Something I can't do, the local authorities doesn't want to take a report of a crime not commited yet in a place outside their bailiwick. And the crime is not going to happen because I'm not going to do it. Worse yet, it will happen when and where the police is not looking, by then it will be too late. An inocent person will get hurt and turn into a guilty one, the scammer will get his money and walk away.

I'll keep trying, at least if I make them send the checks anywhere and they get lost is the scammer's loss.

Today we say good bye to the following mail users (scam mail accounts closed by Yahoo for TOS violation)


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