Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Carmel on the Case: Bank Scam
When most of us deposit a check at the bank, we assume the money is automatically there. But tonight, one local woman is learning the amount of time it takes to clear a check is all the time con artists need to exploit their victims. Carmel Cafiero explains in tonight's Carmel on the Case.
WSVN -- Lets face it, living in South Florida isn't cheap. That's why Dale Parkes decided to recruit a roommate to help offset some of her living expenses.
Dale Parkes: "I had one certain response that I really seemed to like."
Dale found who she thought was the ideal candidate over the internet...A woman from Nigeria.
Dale Parkes: "We had several conversations via e-mail. I would ask certain questions and the responses that came back all sounded very good."
Maybe too good to be true. Because in this case, Dale never got to meet her new online acquaintance. Instead, she was the victim of a classic checking scam.
Dale Parkes:"I had no reason to doubt that this person wasn't an honest person."
But before Dale was even supposed to meet her future roomate, she asked for a rent deposit check. The woman in Nigeria however said it would be easier if a friend of her's in the United States sent Dale a check for more than the amount...And then Dale can send the difference back to the woman in Nigeria.
Dale Parkes: "I put the check in and I checked my bank balance the following day and the found the funds were credited to my account."
And when she saw the funds were credited, Dale mailed the extra money to the person she thought was going to be her future roommate.
Dale Parkes: "And then the bank froze my account."
Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero: "Like many of us, what Dale didnt know, the scammers in Nigeria are exploiting. Just because a bank says the funds are available in an account doesn't mean the check has cleared."
Alex Sanchez from Florida Bankers Association: "It will take a few days for the receiving bank to confirm from the paying bank that in fact the funds are there."
Unfortunately for Dale, the check she received from her roommate's friend was a fraud. The money she sent to Nigeria came out of her own pocket.
Dale Parkes: The bank stated to me that the check had not cleared that they had given the funds to me as a courtesy."
Funds she will never get back and never get reimbursed.
Alex Sanchez: "Its something that is explained to everyone when they open up an account."
And Dale can all but forget about getting the money back from the authorities. A crime like this is seldom solved.
Victor Johnson from FDLE: "It's a very common scam."
Victor Johnson with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says con artists are tricking consumers with bogus checks for everything from cars to computers.
Victor Johnson: "The check is not good, and the bank is going to come after you for that bad check you deposited so you're losing all the way around."
And in this case, Dale lost everything.
Dale Parkes: "I have nothing. The bank has taken everything from me. I have absolutely nothing."
Dale has even been forced to move from her old apartment. A steep price to pay for a very valuable lesson.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE