Monday, June 4, 2012
Help Me Howard: Internet Scammers
If you have a computer, it's almost a certainty that you have been offered money or an amazing way to make money with little or no effort. Some of the Internet offers seem legit because of crafty lies. But when you get scammed, what can you do? It's why one woman called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Annie: "I was just looking for a part time job, since I was home everyday and I was getting bored."
Annie started searching online and found what seemed like a great job with a prominent company in California.
Annie: "And we all thought they were a legit company. That's why I went ahead."
A so-called company representative told Annie she could work from home part time.
Annie: "To receive packages. I was to inspect them."
Annie was told she would be paid $36,000 a year to re-ship the packages. So she sent in her confidential information to their payroll department.
Annie: "Filled out all of the paperwork."
Annie would later find out how damaging that will be. But first, the packages that were addressed to her started arriving at her house five or six a day.
Annie: "And I used to get these big monitors like 27 inches. I even got Cannon cameras."
Annie would then put a label on the package and ship it to various addresses in Russia.
Annie: "Moscow, Ukraine. Every package I sent went over there."
By the time her first paycheck was due, Annie had shipped 60 boxes. But of course the paycheck didn't show up. When she called the company, no response.
Annie: "I'm the type of person I always think everybody is honest and as old as I am I should know that their not."
Annie is so afraid of the criminals running the scam she asked us not to use her last name.
But now an equally big problem. The crooks probably bought the merchandise with credit cards they created in Annie's name and those companies who didn't get paid may come after Annie.
Annie: "I was angry."
Well Howard, Annie is afraid of the crooks but how can she protect herself from the legitimate companies who shipped cameras and TVs to her and did not get paid for their merchandise?
Howard Finkelstein: "This is actually a very diabolical scam. The crooks dangle a job in front of an unemployed person and then use her to steal valuable products. But because she was a victim, legally she is not responsible- either criminally or civilly."
Annie is not alone. According to the latest numbers from the FBI, 20,000 Floridians got taken, losing $37,000,000 to crooks on the Internet.
At Help me Howard we get contacted by victims of several types of scams, many of them involve you getting a check for merchandise you are selling or you are supposedly paid to go shopping. In each one the check is for more than you are owed. You return the surplus to the crook, when their check bounces your bank forces you to pay the amount you sent to the crooks.
The common thread in all the scams: the crooks are very crafty and almost impossible to track down.
Howard Finkelstein: "When they got Annie's confidential information on her job application, they used that to open a credit card in her name. They stole the name of a legitimate company to convince her they were real. They shipped the products to people in Russia and did it all through the Internet. Bottom line: you can't find them or the merchandise."
Actually there is only one person in the scam who is identified. hat one person- the victim, Annie, who doesn't want others to make the same mistake she made.
Annie: "The only thing I would want him to do now is really is to make sure people know about all these scams out there so somebody else doesn't get caught up in it."
Patrick Fraser: "Now if something like this happens to you, notify the police at once. It's important to have documents to show you were the victim and not the crook. Also, in Annie's case, her identity has been stolen so she needs to notify the credit bureaus. Bottom line: if someone is offering you money over the Internet, watch out."
Crooks caught you in their web? Wanna package some help? Contact us. We can't pay out buy maybe the call can pay off for you.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com