Category: Story

Fightback Nan

The Daily Scam is a great web site run by three guys in America who became sick of the flood of scam emails, texts and phone calls that invade our lives.

One lady who contacted them (they call her Nan) tells of her attempts to waste the scammers time and hand the scammers details over to the Police. This is one of her exploits (reproduced with permission from The Daily Scam).

Nan was burned once by a scammer last year and she is once burned, twice shy.  Nan now prides herself as a scam-hunter and we’re proud of her! Rather than cancel her accounts through which she has been targeted by scammers, Nan lies in wait, excited when she recognizes the tell-tale signs of a scam. She’s learned the hard way and now puts that knowledge to good use. Nan has been contacted several times through her Care.com account by what she has come to recognize as the advance check scam.   Advance-check scams are very common and Nan tells us that the scammers can bring it on.

Email To: Nan from “James Abott / Ato Jina”

Hi, You will receive the Assignment Package today. Kindly follow the instruction letter enclosed and complete the Assignment immediately. I will be looking forward to hear from you. Please reply

Nan received a United States Postal Service 2-day priority mail envelope from a business identified as Moving Right Along, located in Fort Lauderdale, FL. There is a real business with this name and address but not in Florida. It is located in Ozone Park, New York!

The envelope that “ato jino” sent to Nan contained the following instructions on stationary from “Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.” 

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is the First Assignment Package as discussed in our previous conversation.

*You will have to cash/deposit the cashier’s check ($1646.71) at your bank today

*The funds should be available in your bank account same day or next day [THIS IS A LIE! MOST BANKS REQUIRE 3-7 DAYS, depending on several factors including if a deposit is made on a weekend or holiday, and make take 5-7 days before determining that a check is fraudulent.]

*Deduct $350 as your weekly wages and another $100 for Moneygram sending fee and Gas

To send the remaining funds $1196) to the Hospital Cashier that would be taking care of the Medication of the Client.

Below is the information of the Company Cashier:

Name: Felix Starks / Address: 3500 Hemphill St, City: Fort Worth State: Texas

Zip Code: 76110…………………………Please send $1196 here via MONEYGRAM

*Kindly send the eight digits Moneygram Reference Number of the transaction above after the transaction has been completed to my e-mail james.abbott335@gmx.com

Yours sincerely
Dr. James Abbott

From: Nan
Date: Jan 5, 2017 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: Hi
To: “ato jino” <atojino4522@gmail.com>

OK I’ve reported you to the authorities.. thanks for another scam!! I’ve already now turned in 10 people! You will be caught for what you are doing. You are a criminal and shame on you!!

Nan says that she has played the scammers several times now.  As she has told us… “I love catching these scam artists in the act. It’s literally a high because I’m stopping them from scamming innocent people. Just being able to help is amazing to me.”

What did Nan accomplish? A lot actually. She wasted the scammer’s time and money, and put him at risk by exposing the fraud. By informing the bank and the authorities, she made it much harder to use the bogus checks pretending to be this bank.  But most importantly, she played them much like the way they play others. And so, to Nan, we say thank you! You are truly a crusader and we salute you

For more details on Nan’s scambaiting go to  www.thedailyscam.com/anti-scam-crusader/

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A Redeemed Scammer

As with many criminals, people who scam others for a living tend to carry on doing so until something dramatic makes them think again – such as a significant prison sentence, losing someone important in their life, violence etc.

“Fred” was a scammer for many years, working for various scam outfits until the day the Federal agents turned up at his office and he ended up spending several years in prison. Now he works to prevent fraud and warn people of how it is done.

Fred says:-

If I were still in the scam business, I would focus on reverse mortgages and precious metals. Home-equity and reverse mortgage scams are attractive now because a lot of seniors have paid off their house, and that’s like an untapped bank account. If your home is worth $300,000 and you paid off your mortgage a couple of years ago, you have $300,000 sitting in the bank, waiting for me to steal it. A lot of TV and direct mail advertising tells you how to get money out of your house while you are still living in it. Some of these ads are legitimate; many are not.

 My ma asked me once how her friends could avoid these scams. I told her two things. If someone is pitching a deal, ask yourself, “What’s in it for him?” A common ploy is to get you to take out a loan on your house, then invest the proceeds in a long-term annuity or some other investment in which they make a huge commission. It may not be a fraud, but it may be a lot better deal for the salesman than for you. I also told Ma that when it comes to your house, never sign any paperwork until your lawyer — someone you choose, not someone the salesman refers you to — reads the fine print.

 As for gold and silver scams, I worked in several coin rooms in the 2000s. We would sell gold coins at a 300 to 500 percent mark up. So the victims would pay $25,000 for a bunch of coins, which they would receive, but years later, they would take them to a coin shop and learn they were worth only a few thousand dollars. This is a great scam, because the coin industry is largely unregulated. Plus, because the victims receive the coins, they don’t realize until years later that they’ve been taken.

 One of my victims was a successful engineer from California named Tim. He first talked to one of our salesmen, who gave him the generic pitch. Then he turned him over to me to close. The first thing I said to Tim was: “Hi, Tim, this is Jim. How are you doing? Go get a pen and paper right now — I want you to write my name down.” Tim immediately said, “Oh, OK, I’ll be right back.”

 With those six words I knew that Tim was going to fall and fall hard. It wasn’t just that he immediately complied with my request; it was how he complied.

 Out of the Game, for Good

All of those years I ripped people off, I knew it was wrong. But I was making so much money, I didn’t care. It wasn’t until those agents busted into my office in Miami that it finally hit me: What I was doing was really bad. I pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and went to prison for more than three years. I had a lot of time to think about my crimes. When I got out, I promised my mother I would never go back to my old ways. It wasn’t easy. The first year I was out of prison I was asked almost daily to work as a closer for the latest scam. Finally, I changed my phone number so I wouldn’t be tempted.

 Now, I am 44 years old, and I live in my parents’ house. I owe the federal government almost a million dollars in restitution that I don’t have a prayer of paying back. Thanks to years of smoking and drug abuse, I have acute emphysema and I carry around an oxygen tank. I’m on the waiting list for a double lung transplant, but the clock is running out. Can you spell karma?

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The Dale Car Scam

This is the strange story of a scammer named Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael.  In 1974, there was an oil crisis and people looked for cars that were cheaper to run than the typical American gas guzzler.

She came up with The Dale. A three wheeler two seater sports car powered by an 850 cc air cooled engine and claimed to manage 70 miles per gallon and to cost only $2000 (cheap even in 1974).

Two additional vehicles were planned by Carmichael, the Revelle and the Vanagen. Both of these had  a three-wheeled design and used the same 2-cylinder engine. None of the vehicles ever saw production and only two prototype vehicles of the Dale were made; only one prototype was able to run under its own power.

Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times in November 1974, Carmichael said she was on the way to taking on General Motors or any other car manufacturer for that matter. She said she had millions of dollars in backing “from private parties” and also talked of a 150,000 sq ft  assembly plant in Burbank, California and over 100 employees on the rolls.

She claimed to be the widow of a NASA structural engineer but in fact she had been wanted by the police since 1961 for alleged involvement in counterfeiting. She scammed $33 million from investors before running off with the money.

The Dale was marketed as being high-tech, lightweight, yet safer than any existing car at the time. “By eliminating a wheel in the rear, we saved 300 pounds and knocked more than $300 from the car’s price. The Dale  weighs less than 1,000 pounds”, said Carmichael. She claimed that the car’s lightness did not affect its stability or safety. The low centre of gravity always remained inside the triangle of the three wheels, making it nearly impossible for it to tip over. She also went on record to say that she drove it into a wall at 30 miles per hour and there was no structural damage to the car or her. She expected sales of 88,000 cars in the first year and 250,000 in the second year.

When Car & Driver magazine went to investigate the Dale, the prototype lacked a steering wheel, had no accelerator pedal, and had a lawnmower engine in the engine compartment not connected to the wheels..

The clever scammer was caught and jailed but only some of the money was ever recovered.

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Eric and the Fake Job

Eric was a smart guy – retired from working in technology and looking for a part-time job working from home but earning some serious money if possible.

Searching on the Internet he found a website for a Swiss company offering jobs to retired people with a professional background and he took the ‘opportunity’.

The work was straightforward – mostly about buying APPLE devices in Walmarts and sending them on to an address in California.

The Swiss company paid his credit card bill for the first few weeks then the payments stopped and the credit card company told him there was fraud involved and the previous payments to his card were fake and had been cancelled.

Eric now found himself owing tens of thousands of dollars to the credit card company and the scammers had disappeared – the website was gone, the phone lines were no longer answered.

It was a nasty lesson for Eric but it can be a warning to others to beware high paying jobs offered by people you’ve never met.

This is a complex scam as the scammers set-up fake websites and call centres, fake legal documents and more to trap the unwary. They use stolen bank accounts and credit cards to pay bills initially then vanish leaving innocent people in huge debt with no redress and possible legal action against them if they have been shipping stolen goods.

Stay safe.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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How Did 419 Scams Begin

Fifty Scams and Hoaxes is a new book by Martin Fone and is described as a light-hearted investigation into some of the worst examples of financial skulduggery, medical quackery and ingenious hoaxing from history. Along the way he came across a Pope advocating a drink based on cocaine, a pill to avoid hangovers, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, the man who broke the bank twice and the first examples of insurance fraud and scam emails.

It’s an easy book to read and is entertaining.

One story that surprised the Fightback Ninja is an early version of the 419 scam, also known as the advance fee scam where the scammer offers a fortune in return for carrying out a simple task.

The fortune might be a lock box of gold left by a diplomat that only you can access, or it may be the legacy of a dead relative and you’re the next of kin supposedly or any one of hundreds of such stories.

There is no fortune of course and the scammer progressively gets the victim to make a series of small payments for customs clearance or security checks or any other reason until the victim realises it’s a scam and stops paying.

Eugene Francois Vidocq in revolutionary France late 18th century specialised in using prison guards to send letters to carefully chosen very wealthy people.

The letters claimed he and his master were intending to escape revolutionary France and had a casket containing 1600 francs in gold and diamonds. They had been attacked en route and ditched the casket but now they were safe and had sent a servant to collect the casket but he had ended up in jail.

So, if you (the recipient) could send the money to have the servant released then the fortune can be shared with you.

The story is quite long and convoluted to add authenticity and is cleverly designed to lure the unsuspecting victim into believing about the fortune. This long ago scam shares many features with the modern day advance fee scams based upon it.

Vidocq reckoned that 20% of the letters he sent out ended up with money in his pocket so he became a wealthy man before retiring from the scamming game.  Modern day scammers need to send out millions of such messages to make any money from their fraudulent schemes.

Martin Fone’s blog is at https://martinfone.wordpress.com/

You can buy the book at www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/business/fifty-scams-and-hoaxes

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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The Shed That Wasn’t a Top Restaurant

This is the story of how a back garden shed became the number one rated restaurant in London according to TripAdvisor.

The guy who did this did lots of jobs including writing fake reviews on TripAdvisor for restaurant owners who paid him £10 a time.  One day, sitting in his shed, he wondered if it was possible to create a fake restaurant on Trip Advisor and push it up the rankings to number one.

Setting Up the Shed – April 2017

To get your restaurant on Trip Advisor you just fill in the details online and give a phone number, address, description etc. – all easily done. He didn’t give the proper address – just the street where he lived and described The Shed as an appointment-only restaurant.

Next he bought a suitable Internet domain name and setup a website for the non-existent restaurant called The Shed.

He knew that to create interest he needed something original and pretentious – such as naming all of the dishes after moods. So, he created pretentious descriptions of the restaurant and the food with ridiculous photos of these mood dishes using shaving foam and anything to hand. One photo is of a fried egg on his bare foot. Clipped so you cannot tell it’s a foot. Crazy stuff.

Getting the Shed to Number One

At first on Trip Advisor it was ranked at 18,149 i.e. the bottom of the list.

He got friends to start adding rave reviews of The Shed and that’s how Trip Adviser works so The Shed started to rise up the ranks despite the fact that no-one had ever eaten a meal there – it was just his garden shed.

People started to phone to make bookings – and were told it was fully booked for months ahead.  People were attracted by the fact it was brand new, little was known about it and it seemed to be difficult to get a table there.

People in his street would stop him and ask for directions to The Shed and the phone kept ringing with people keen to make bookings.

Six months after he started his fake restaurant, The Shed achieved number one status on Trip Advisor.

He did tell TripAdvisor of his ‘experiment’ and their response by email was:- “Generally, the only people who create fake restaurant listings are journalists in misguided attempts to test us. As there is no incentive for anyone in the real world to create a fake restaurant it is not a problem we experience with our regular community – therefore this ‘test’ is not a real world example.”

Fair enough. But do beware of reviews that may have been written for less than honest reasons.

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