Monday, August 31, 2009

I just found out that I am a scam victim . . . what do I do now?

I am asked this question many times, and because I was once a scam victim I can relate to the feeling of just finding out that you have been scammed. When we were scammed there was a lot less information out on the internet about scams and what to do. Because of this I spent many hours calling people or on the internet searching for where to report this information. Now we have all of that in one place for you at's_check.htm

I would also suggest writing a summary of what happened to you. Include dates, times, names and locations. You can read my letter/summary at

Get a notebook and keep track of everything that happens from this day forward in regards to this scam. Each time you speak with the bank, anything you agree to with the bank needs to be recorded and documented.

If you would like to help to educate others about these scams, contact your local media and try to get your story in the news.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Email account verification scam

Here is a scam email that I just got today . . .

Dear CS.COM Owner
Dear CS.COM Account Owner,
This message is from the CS.COM technical support department messaging center to all CS.COM Webmail account owners. Due to high rate of spam and scam phishing emails you receive to your mail box,We hereby use this medium to inform you that we will be carrying out some maintenance/Upgrading operations inorder to install in your mail box aspam detection/blocker to your mail box, This will also Increase the Storage bite of your mail and also protect your mail box from spam. As a result of this we will be deleting all expired and unused account to create more rooms for new updated/upgraded ones. To prevent your account from being closed unnecessarily, you will have to update us with the following information's below for propal verifications to prevent the unwarranted close of your email account.
1.Full Email Address:......................
3. Re-type password:....................
4.age/country:................. of birth:................
6.First name/Last name:.............
Warning Code:VX2G99AAJWarning!!!
Account owner that refuses to update his or her account Within Three days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently. Thank you for using CS.COMWebmail!
Warning Code:VX2G99AAJ
Thanks,CS.COM Alert team

The give away for this one was that it came from a gmail account and it was asking for my age and date of birth . . . why would my email service need that info???

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More on Secret Shopper Scams

For a listing of legitimate Secret Shopper companies, go to

We have spoken with representatives at both Western Union and Money Gram. Money Gram does NOT use Secret Shoppers as a normal business practice. Western Union does use Secret Shoppers, but the shoppers are NEVER paid by cashier’s check or money order. If you have been contacted to shop Western Union or Money Gram, and it involves you receiving a cashier’s check or money order, IT IS A SCAM.

Often, the email address used by the representative of the company “hiring” you will be coming from a generic email address, and not one associated with that company. For further assurance, search out that company on your own and contact them for verification.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Secret Shopper Scams

Many news reports are referring to this as the “newest” scam variation, but we have been seeing reports of these scams on our message board since 2005. The job description can be Secret Shopper, Mystery Shopper or Customer Service Evaluator, but it is all the same scam.The scammer will either place an ad in a legitimate classified listing, online or in print, or they will collect their victim’s names and email addresses off of resumes posted online. Some of them are even making “copy cat” websites of legitimate Secret Shopper companies to use in their scam to help convince the victim that this is all legitimate. For a listing of legitimate Secret Shopper companies, go to

The victim will be told that they have been hired as a Secret Shopper and will be sent a cashier’s check or money order to cash and use on their assignments. One of the assignments is to review the service at a Western Union or Money Gram location. They are given a name and address to wire money to, from the check that was sent to them, and told to fill out an evaluation form on the service received and email or fax that back to the company they are working for. Everything seems fine, and some victims may even complete a few “assignments” before the check is discovered to be counterfeit. On average, it takes about 10 business days for the bank to realize that the check is counterfeit, but we have seen some cases where it has taken over 6 months. Once the bank dose find that the check is counterfeit, they will contact you demanding the return of the money and deduct the full amount of the check from your bank account. This sometimes leaves the victims with negative bank accounts.For more information on the check clearing process and the banking terms, please read

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Report Online Scams | Scams, Frauds,Ripoff,Fraudster,Con-artist Reported Online

I was just introduced to a new website that I would like to share with you.

Report Online Scams Scams, Frauds,Ripoff,Fraudster,Con-artist Reported Online

This site was created by a group of men that were scammed and wanted to do something about it. I can relate to that, since that is why my husband and I created our site.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lottery Scams

How the Lottery Scams works
A typical Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam begins with an email telling you that you have won a large amount of money, and giving you the name of a contact person or agent that you are supposed to work with in order to claim your money. The “lottery winner” will be told that they need to pay a processing fee in order to claim their winnings. For some, these scams become an addiction much like gambling. There is the promise of a large amount of money, and it feels like it is so close, that they continue to send the “agent” more and more money to cover all of the fictional fees and transfer charges.

In other variations, the “winner” will receive a check from the fake lottery agent. They will be told that the check is a partial payment on their winnings, and that to receive the remainder of the winnings they must cash the check and wire a portion of that check, for fees or charges, to the agent. From here, this variation follows the path of a typical Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam. The scam victim takes the check to the bank, deposits it and waits for the bank to tell them that the check is clear. Once they believe that the check is clear and has been verified as legitimate, the scam victim then wires the “fees” on to the agent. In about a week, the scam victim is contacted by their bank and told that the check is counterfeit and that they must return the money and are fully liable for the entire amount of the check.

The website tells the story of a victim of one of these scams.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chris Malta

Chris Malta is a scam fighter on a mission . . . to travel across the country to educate people about the scams out there that are costing people thousands of dollars every day. Go to to see if Chris will be traveling to a town near you. Chris will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of the EBiz world.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Request to the Scammers

If you read my last blog entry, you will see that there is now a scam in which people are told that they can receive a portion of Michael Jackson’s estate. At the end of that blog I mentioned that I would now need to add another section to our message board, and now that I think about it I would need to add a new page to our website, with information on Dead Celebrity Scams.

This got me thinking about how this is a lot of work for all of the scam fighting sites to add a new page to our websites, with accurate information on how the scam works, the red flags to look for, plus a sample of one of the emails for our readers to look at. So, to help all of the scam fighting sites out, I would like to request that the scammers start sending out a press release when they create a new scam or a new variation. This press release should include the name of the scam, the date that the scammers are launching this variation, how the scam works or what older scam this is a variation on, the red flags that people should look for, along with a sample of one of the emails being used in this scam.

This would all be helpful because then as scam fighting websites we can just copy and paste this information into a new page of our websites.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michael Jackson's name makes it's way into scam email

I never thought that I would be mentioning Michael Jackson’s name in a scam blog, but I guess this just proves that the scammers will stop at nothing and will use anything they think will get people’s attention. I found the following email in my spam folder the other day.


From: Hope
you receive this message!!!

Hope you receive this message!!!On
behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Michael Jackson. I
once again try to notify you as my earlier letter were returned undelivered. I
wish to notify you that late King of Pop. Michael Jackson made you a beneficiary
to his WILL. He left the sum of Five Million, Dollars (USD$5,000.000.00) to you
in the Codicil and last testament to his WILL. This may sound strange and
unbelievable to you, but it is real and true. Being widely entertainer, he must
have been in contact with you in the past or simply you were nominated to him by
one of his numerous fans abroad who wished you good. Late Michael Joseph Jackson
until his death was a member "MJFC" The Michael Jackson Fan Club and the
Institute of entertainer. Please if I reach you as I am hopeful, endeavor to get
back to me as soon as possible to enable me conclude my job. You are advice to
contact me with my personal email: your
prompt response.100Yours in Service, BARRISTER John Branca ESQ.


I cannot believe it! I never even when to one of his concerts . . . I did purchase the Thriller album . . . but out of all of the people in the world to pick from, Michael Jackson picked ME to a beneficiary to his will.

I guess this means that I need to add a new section to our message board for Dead Celebrity Scams.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Banking Terms - Not as "Clear" as they should be

One thing that I found out after becoming a scam victim is that the terms that banks use are words that give the customers a false sense of security. Here are a few things about banking terms that you should know.

What “Clear” really means:
“The check has cleared” does not mean the money in your account belongs to you. It only means that the clearing house has not sent the draft back for non-sufficient funds, closed account, or flag instructions on the account. It does not mean the draft was written by the account holder.

Depending on the size or purpose of the account, the account holder may not notice the absence of funds for several days after the draft has reached his bank. In fact, an account holder may have up to one full year to report an unauthorized draft.

Bank statements are usually sent out on the 1st or 15th of the month. If the transaction took place near one of those dates, the account holder may be unaware of the unauthorized transaction until statements are sent out the following month and time is taken to balance the statement.

The problem . . . when a customer brings a cashier’s check or money order from someone that they do not know into the bank, and the bank tells them that it is “cleared” (some times after only 24 hours) it gives the customer a false sense of security that they can spend/use that money, but this is not the case. If a problem comes up with this document, the bank will come back to the customer and demand that they refund the entire amount.

What “Available funds” really means:
“Available funds” does not mean the money in your account belongs to you, even if a hold has been taken off the draft.

When you deposit a check into your bank account, your bank advances you the money for that check to keep the wheels of commerce moving. Of the millions and millions of checks processed every day, a relatively small number are returned because of a problem; because of this, banks and credit unions must automatically credit depositor accounts within a certain number of days.
A bank or credit union can make an exception to the rule and wait for a longer period of time on any given deposit before crediting the depositor account, but apart from such an exception the credit is automatic. Again, this wording gives the customer a false sense of security about the authenticity of the document in question.

This credit to your account is called a “provisional loan” and is actually a no-signature loan from your bank to you. It does not mean that your bank has been credited by the account holder bank. If your bank HAS extended you a “provisional loan” and you normally had a very low account balance, or had been the type of customer who would be denied a loan if you apply for one with your bank, you should know that their are some scam victims who have fought back against their banks using this as their case.

The only time the money in your account really belongs to you is when the check or money order has been HONORED, meaning your bank has been credited (paid) by the account holder bank.

ALWAYS ask your bank if the draft has been honored and DO NOT TOUCH THE MONEY until it has.

When in doubt about a draft, tell your bank to send the draft for COLLECTION.

Some banks are starting to use the terms “The check is pending” when the money has been deposited into the account, but the check has not yet been honored.

Sending a draft for Collection:
When you send a draft for Collection, it means that your bank or credit union will not put any money in your account until the draft has been paid, i.e. your bank has received the credit from the account holder bank.

Your bank or credit union will charge you a fee and give you an approximate time before the draft is honored. This time period may be as long as 6 to 8 weeks depending on the location of the account holder bank.

Some banks and credit unions will provide the collection service even if you do not have an account with them, so long as you pay the service charge.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Bank of America television commercial

Over the weekend I saw a new television commercial for Bank of America, in which they were talking about their new mobile banking and how wonderful it is. They had different people, who I assume we were supposed to believe are bankers, that were listing off all of the great features.

Now, none of this would have ruffled my feathers, until one of the people was talking about the different kinds of alerts that you can be sent, and he said that you could be sent an alert that tells you when a check clears. WHAT!?!?! How is that possible when

1) The employees in the bank cannot even really tell you when a check is clear. The best that they can tell you is that they have not found any holds or issues with the check yet. Oh don’t get me wrong, they will say the words “the check is clear” but that does not mean it has been authorized, approved or without obstructions . . . which by the way are some of the dictionary’s definitions of the word “clear”.
2) The term clear does not really mean anything in the world of banking. A check will show as “clear” until a problem comes up with it, so it could be clear today, and then be found to be counterfeit the very next day.

If we look up the term clear from The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, a place that should know it’s banking terminology, we find this . . .

check clearing
The movement of a check from the depository institution at which it was deposited back to the institution on which it was written, the movement of funds in the opposite direction, and the corresponding credit and debit to the accounts involved. Check clearing also encompasses the return of a check (for insufficient funds, for example) from the bank on which it was written to the bank at which it was deposited, and the corresponding movement of funds. The Federal Reserve Banks operate a nationwide check-clearing system.

So you can see, by the definition in banking terms, check clearing merely describes the process of the check moving through the system, and no where in it does it say that check clearing means that the check has finished that process or that it is “authorized, approved or without obstructions”.

So why, when banking customers ask a bank employee “How long until I will know if this cashier’s check is good?” do the bank employees respond with comments like “The check will be clear in 24 hours.” And, why is Bank of America is promoting that one of the wonderful functions of their new mobile banking service is that you can be told when a check is “clear” if as we have just seen from the information about “clear” does not really tell you anything about the authenticity of the check or that payment has been received.

That would be a better function . . . if it could notify you when payment has been received and collected by the issuing bank and the cehck was proven authentic.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Scam Victim Arrested

What started out as excitement about a new job quickly turned into a financial and emotional roller coaster for one Texas woman. In July of 2009, Nicole Ball, a stay-at-home mother from Pasadena, Texas was offered a job by someone claiming to be with a company called Formations House processing paperwork for their clients. Nicole was ecstatic, and in this economy who would not be when they found not only a source of income but a way to do so and continue to stay at home with her young child.

She began to receive packages in the mail with instructions to process the checks in the package. She was instructed to keep a portion of the checks, for her payment, and then to forward the rest of the money along with some paperwork on to a man using the name of Stanley Clarkes.
On July 23rd she entered the bank to bring in another check that she had received, and when she brought them to the teller her whole world turn upside down . . . the bank employees brought her into an office, called the police and pressed charges against her for forgery. She was devastated. To add to this, her young daughter was with her at the time and she had to witness her mother being told that the check was a fraud, the job she thought she had was a scam, and that now she was going to be arrested and have to spend time in jail.

It is cases like this that show how significant the need for Scam Education and Awareness is, not only for the average American, but for bank employees and law enforcement. With the right questions, not only could the bank employees have seen the warning signs of a scam and warned Nicole, but they would have also realized that she was not the one that needed to be behind bars or prosecuted. With the right questions or a search warrant, the police could have seen that Nicole was not the one manufacturing these counterfeit checks that were good enough to fool bank employees. They could have reviewed the information on her computer and in her home to see that she is a victim of this scam and not the perpetrator.

Nicole’s story is far from over. She will now have to endure court proceedings and pay for legal fees all to prove that she is innocent. I hope that the law enforcement and government officials in Pasadena, Texas will step in on this matter in order to assist Nicole Ball and her young daughter. Beyond that we ask for your support and partnership in a Scam Education and Awareness Program across the country so that stories like Nicole’s will not happen to others.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Consumer Alert - Renters Scam

In this consumer alert by the FBI, they look at what we refer to as Roommate or Renter Scams.

We have been reporting stories of Roommate/Renter Scams since 2005. Many victims are sent cashier's checks as a deposit on a room/space they are renting, and it will either be for more than the agreed upon amount, or the renter will later back out of the deal completely and ask for the money to be wired back to them.

Remember, it takes an average of 7 to 10 business days for the bank to find out that the check is counterfeit, and in some cases we have seen it take months. No matter how long it takes, once it comes back as counterfeit the bank will hold you liable for the entire amount of the check, even if they had already told you that it was "clear" or "verified". Never wire money to someone that sent you a cashier's check or money order. That is a clear sign of a scam.

Shawn Mosch

Co-Founder of

There is strength in numbers!

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What can I do?

I will often get asked by people "What can I do?"

There are many ways that you can help to spread the word, or support our mission.
Education and spreading the word is the key to fighting these scams. If you have a blog, write about your experience and the information on our site.

You can connect with us on social networking sites and tell others that you are already connected with about us. You can find our pages here By connecting with us, you will be sharing the information with all of your connections. Also, at the top of all of the pages of our website and blog is a "Share" button which allows you to share our site with people on other sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

Volunteer to work with us . . . let us know what yours skills and experience are and we would be happy to find a way for you to help us.

Shop our Amazon store at
Shop our Cafe Press store at
Make a donation to us through PayPal at

And just keep talking about the topic of scams. Education is the key to fighting these scams!

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Mother Finds Her Baby Son Up for Adoption on Craigslist - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News -

Can you imagine finding your own child listed in an advertisement as being up for adoption? Well that is what happened to one mother recently.

Mother Finds Her Baby Son Up for Adoption on Craigslist - Local News News Articles National News US News -

It turns out that some scammers used a photo of her child, that she posted on a family blog, and they created an advertisement with it. The scammers would then try to get the people answering the ad to send them money for the legal fees for the adoption of the child.

This is VERY similar to what scammers have been doing with Romance and Dating Scams for years. They will take the picture of an attractive person off of a website, sometimes a modeling site, and use that as the "decoy" to get people to try and connect with them.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
There is strength in numbers!

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