Beware Internet-based Scams


Most of us who spend any time on the internet and do business by email have received any number of fraudulent communications: the letters from Nigerian widows trying to claim fortunes and all manner of pfishing letters from financial institutions pretending an urgent need to verify our account information.


In most cases, these scammers offer to pay with a cashier's check, which we have been led to believe are "as good as cash." Well, that's only so if the check is genuine, not a counterfeit. And, if the person who writes the check doesn't put a stop on the funds by reporting the check stolen.

Avoiding Cashier's Check Fraud
Tips for Recognizing and Avoiding Fake Check Scams
Cashier Check Scam

Some of you might also be aware of scams related to the purchase of horses and horse-related products and equipment. The basic setup is that someone from out of the country contacts you about a horse, horse trailer, hay or other item you have advertised online. The person makes an offer to purchase and sends you a check for more than the amount of purchase with instructions for you to wire or otherwise send the balance back to him or to a third party.

You deposit the person's check and don't hear a peep from your bank after a few days, so you assume the funds are there and comply with what probably seems like a slightly unusual but not unreasonable request to send on part of the money. Then, weeks (or I've heard even months!) later your bank determines the check you deposited was bogus and you are out both the amount you thought you deposited and the portion you sent on from your own account. Apparently some of these fake checks are so good it can take weeks for the various banks involved to determine they are counterfeit. And, it seems the banks put the responsibility on you to know whether there might be a problem with a check - they take no responsibility for whatever might happen to your account when the funds disappear from your account. If you've been writing checks on the amount you thought you had, you could end up with hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees in addition to what you lost by sending money from your account to the scammer.

Here are some websites that have more information:

Most of these sites detail scams involving horses or other merchandise. However, I probably get one of these types of emails about every couple of months from people seeking to prepay for several months of riding lessons. And one recently was obviously from someone mistaking what kind of massage services I offer. I emailed her back telling her that unless she was a horse, I probably couldn't help her even if she paid up front for several sessions!

I generally just delete these nuisance emails instead of going to the trouble of trying to report them like I did the first such scam I encountered. That one I reported it to the fraud unit at my state's Attorney General's office. The premise was that the son of a Belgian man would be staying with his uncle in Tucson and wanted to have riding lessons. Could have been true, but luckily something seemed bit "off" to me. I hadn't heard of these types of scams beforehand, but did some web surfing and then played along out of curiosity until I got a bogus check from this man and was able with one simple phone call to confirm that the cashier's check (which looks quite legit) was fake.

Following is the text of several of the communications for your reference should you experience anything similar:

From: Carl Owen []
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 7:26 AM

Dear Trainer,
I am pleased to contact you,

My name is Mr. Carl Owen from brugge in Belgium.I saw your profile as a Horse Riding Instructor, hence, my purpose of contacting you.

I email to confirm if my 16yrs old son (Paul) can join you in your tutorial,so that you can help me teach him how to Ride. I so much would love his dreams come true as very good Horse Rider, and I am ready to support him morally and financially.
I would want you to give me the cost of the tuition for 6 months as I would want the tuition to hold 3 times in a week and last for 1 hour daily. Note that my son once had a tutor in March who lost his wife in a car accident and decided to stop teaching.

Additionally, please give me your address or the address of where you normally teach your students, so that I can have the idea of where lessons will be taking place,as we are presently out of US,but arrangement have been concluded for Paul to come to Arizona.

Awaiting your swift response,
Best Regards from me, Carl Owen.

From: Carl Owen []
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2007 9:27 PM

Dear Stacey,

Thank you for your prompt response and your readiness to tutor Paul, my son,.I have visited your website and am impressed by the information therein. Paul has elementary education and speaks good english, he is a fresher (a beginner), just enrolled for two weeks with the other teacher,I mentioned this in my first email., so he is a fresher. At the moment I want him to learn how to ride for 6 months, thereafter we shall know what next line of action would be, but definitely he will go further.Paul is ready when you are and I am equally ready to give all my support.I spoke with a teacher in Brugge Schulle Farm he would suggest twice a week lesson for a beginner like paul, so I want us to settle for this if you dont mind.

I want to believe this is the location where the training shall be taking place,as I have already told Paul about this and he is ready to start, I have equally sent it to my Cousin Steve, that stays in your location and he said to me that it is ok, he shall be driving paul to the lesson and will be picking him up after each class; he is presently out of state to Australia and he should be back any moment from now and will come together with Paul for the first lesson.I am impressed by your description of yourself as a teacher and would be glad if you tutor my son.Yes, I want to believe you are the type of teacher for him at this level.You will not only teach him how to ride but will also be his role model, I hope you understand what I mean, as in helping to give him a good shape based on your experience.

As for the price, please let me know the total amount for six months (twice a week), name to write on your check, and the address to send it to .I guess a US bank certified check is alright.Paul will be ready to leave the moment am able to conclude this arrangement with you, that is finding a good teacher for him.

Like I said, I am presently living in Belgium due to work, I travel a lot and would like to conclude the whole arrangement before Paul would come down,only Paul would be coming down and will stay with my Cousin Steve.It is good for me to send the payment to you from here, as soon as I have the details from you I will do just that and Paul will commence with the lesson immediately.You can reach me on +32485718853 should you have any question(s).

Looking forward to receiving your swift response.

Best Regards,
Carl Owen.

From: Carl Owen []
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 11:27 AM

Dear Stacey,

Thank you so much for your email and I am pleased that you have got my payment. Paul is ready to leave, but I just got back and realised now that my wife sent you more money, the money that is meant for Paul's travel expenses, so this is what you are going to do, deduct cost of the lesson and send the remainder to our Travel Agent that is arranging his travel. You will send the money to their head office with Western Union money transfer, just deduct the commission of Western Union and send the remainder in two equal portions to the Ticketing officer and Accountant in order to expedite the processing.
Here is the Travel Agent's Details:
Name: Anabel Smith
Address: Avenida Palacetta 60, Sevilla, 41009, Spain.
and second officer:
Name: Mary Paz
Address: Church DePalace 21, Sevilla, 41009, Spain.
These are the details you need to send it with Western Union money transfer service, just go to the nearest Western Union agent and give them the money in two equal portions after you might have taken out your lesson fees and give them the names and addresses of my travel agent as the receivers.
You are to send the following details to me after sending the money, which you will find on the receipt that will be given to you by Western Union;
1.MTCN (money transfer control number)
2.Senders name
3.Senders address
4.Total amount sent
Upon receipt of these details, I would forward it to my travel agent and Paul would be able to leave here tomorrow at latest.
Best Wishes,



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