SCAM ALERT: Hudson County residents scammed through Craigslist, one scam reported yesterday 

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Craigslist can be a great service but if you deal with people who you do not meet with face to face you may be at risk of a scam. Different variations of Craigslist scams have been present for years. In some cases, you may be selling an item and receive an offer for more than your selling price or you may be offered a job with competitive pay.The most recent scam, which isn’t new, just resurfacing, is an individual posing a manager for a company and offering you a “remote receptionist” position at a competitive rate and to top it off the position helps foster kids. The name of the individual and company name changes each time but the reason and job remains the same. The victim reported to Hudson County TV that this happened to them on February 19, 2015 and later found out the same exact scam happened back in November. On February 19th, the scam artist posed as “Jeremy Benjamin,” a manager for Parmalat Bakery Inc.

Here is what the emails that the victim received looked like:
first email
Upon supplying the scammer with the requested information the next email looks like this:
email 1
The catch: The person/company will send you a fraudulent cashier’s check to be deposited into your account. You will take either a portion of the check as your pay and use the remaining amount to purchase money grams as an assignment for this new job. The cashier’s check usually looks almost identical to a real cashier’s check. Scammers use cashier’s checks because they take up to 2 weeks to verify through banks. Upon attempting to deposit the cashier’s check, banks will notify you that they believe the cashier’s check may be fraudulent. Banks are able to look up the routing number and other check information at the bank for you. If they advise you not to cash the check it is highly recommended that you do not cash it.
Here is what that email looks like:
Picture 2
And here is what the actual check looks like, very similar to a real cashier’s check:
check
However, if you were a victim and did deposit the check the following would most likely happen:
  1. Victim deposits the cashier’s check into bank account. The funds are immediately available. The scammers hope is that you use the money immediately. They will tell you the assignment is time sensitive.
  2. Victim withdrawals their payment (a portion of the check, for example $500 out of a $3,000 check).
  3. The victim then using the remaining money to purchase MoneyGrams, as per the scammers request.
  4. MoneyGrams are purchased in the remaining balance and unknowingly sent to addresses provided by the scammer, most likely addresses associated with the scammer so that they get that money.
  5. Within 2 weeks, after the check is verified by the bank it will come back to the victim as a fraudulent check
  6. The victim will then owes the bank the full amount plus any bad check return fees
  7. The victim will attempt to contact the scammer to resolve but they have already disconnected their phone number and are not answering emails
scam picture 3
So, then what happens? 
You, as a curious, annoyed, and frustrated victim of a scam attempt to look into this a bit further. You may have done the following:
  1. You contact the person who hired you but their phone number is disconnected and they don’t answer your emails
    1. You try to search their phone number but it’s a google voice phone number so you cannot trace it
    2. You try to search their email and notice that the company they claimed to be has different email addresses.
    3. You email the company that this person claims they worked for to verify, but no information is available
    4. You look up the website and realized the domain was recently purchased, you look into the domain for the IP address to possibly get this persons’ address but you realize that the IP coordinates take you to an address in the middle of the woods. Therefore the IP address has been scrambled by the scammer.
  2. You contact the bank the cashier’s check was purchased from and provide the check number. The bank notifies you that it is fraudulent. You can not get any information from this check because it was most likely printed at home
    1. You may have also noticed that the back of the check does not have the corresponding water mark
    2. You may have noticed that the name on the check does not match the name of the signature
    3. You may have looked up, how to tell if a cashier’s check is fraudulent, and noticed that your check does not meet the requirements of a real cashier’s check
  3. You notice that the shipping label has different company names, addresses, and phone numbers as the shipper
    1. You contact the business it was shipped from and they are unaware of what you are talking about and did not send the shipment
    2. You contact the second business name on the shipping label who is also unaware
  4. You call USPS to get any information on this package. Your mostly interested in knowing if this person shipped it from the actual post office because if they did they you can really catch them! But chances are, they didn’t.
    1. The post office tells you that they cannot provide this information and that you must open an investigating online.
    2. You attempt to open an investigation but you are opening it against the person who sent the piece of mail, which is not the actual scammer, it’s instead another victim of this scam.
What you learned:
  1. You cannot track this scammer, the person emailing you may not even be from the company. However, you do know that someone from the city/town that the package was shipped from is involved.
    1. They printed the label online using a commercial account but you can not find it
    2. There is no way to find out if they shipped it from the post office, a drop box, or if they scheduled a pickup.
      1. They most likely used one of the several drop boxes available in the city/town because they knew if they physically went into a post office they would be on camera. If they scheduled a pickup, USPS would have a record and know the address of where it was picked up (which may not even be associated with the scammers)
  2. The scammer used a fake name, fake company name, potentially created a fake website for the company
  3. The scammer made sure that they re-routed their IP addresses to different addresses in a different state
  4. The scammer used google voice phone numbers so that they can not be traced
  5. The scammer involved more victims by shipping the check from a random business owners addresses
    1. This made it appears as if the owner of “X” business mailed you this check but this is not the case
As this article is being written, USPS is distributing pieces of mail containing these fraudulent checks. Several victims are unknowingly accepting a payment, a job, etc. and depositing this cashier’s check into their account to later find out that it’s fraudulent and that they owe thousands of dollars to the bank for using the money.
Just remember, whatever the pitch may be: offered a job hoping foster kids, offered more than the selling price for an item, offered a prize, told that your family is in trouble, told that you can get a loan even with bad credit… the goal of the scammer is to get your money! Once you send that money it is nearly impossible to trace it or get it back.
Most scams follow the same pattern: the buyer or person offering employment usually does not live near you or lives in a different country, the buyer or person offering employment wants to use a cashier’s check or money oder to pay for the item or your services, the buyer or person offering employment will not answer his/her phone or meet with you in person, a person notifies you that you won a prize or lottery that you owe taxes on, you receive a call about a family emergency and that a family member needs money sent to them, you are told you qualify for a guaranteed loan.

There are ways to prevent becoming a Craigslist fraud victim. Utilize the internet to search any available information such as the individual’s name, company name, email address, or phone number. You can also copy and paste any or all information that was sent via email and search it in google to see if anyone else has received similar or the exact same email. In most cases, it has been reported before. Just remember new versions of old scams pop up all of the time so even if you don’t find anything by searching the web, be cautious because you may be the first victim.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Trust your instincts. If it’s too good to be true then it may be a scam.
  2. Do not do business with someone from overseas who you will not be meeting with face to face, stick with local buyers and sellers
  3. If you are selling, be aware of anyone offering more than what you asked for or offering to send via money order or cashier’s check
  4. Never wire personal funds to a distant buyer via their selected carrier
  5. Never give out personal information such as your social security number, bank account information, PayPal information, etc.)
  6. Review emails for poor grammar, misspelled words, and robot like sentences, these are red flags
  7. Save all emails, phone/text correspondence. This may be helpful when filing a complaint or police report.
All scams should be reported as soon as possible to Craigslist and/or your local police.
For more information you may visit the following websites:

About The Author

14 Comments

  1. Michael McGrath via Facebook

    Lmao! I can’t believe people fall for these scams all the time. I work in banking and get people all the time getting these checks saying they won some type of Canadian Lottery where they must deposit the check into their account then must mail back that amount to the company to receive the remaining winnings. What then happens is the check they deposit bounces n the money they sent is out of there account leaving them negative. Next they come in to the bank crying to us how did we let this happen and my question to them is, “did you ever play the Canadian lottery or been to Canada?” Always their answer has been “no” so then my next question is “how can you win a lottery that you never played?” Which then you get that dumb look on their face lol! Sorry I can’t feel sorry for stupidity.

  2. Kathleen McCann Ianiro via Facebook

    I work in the post office where they come in to cash the fake money orders. If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

  3. Brandon

    My wife received the same email this morning from an ad on craigslist looking for an office assistant.

    Hello Applicant,
    I am replying back to your message concerning the job posted on Craigslist in which you’re interested in, We currently have a vacant position available, which is an Office Receptionist Position.

    We are looking for someone that can be trusted and reliable to work very well with good understanding as an Office Receptionist Person. The job involves you working remotely from your location and its flexible, working with us is about instructions and following them.
    My only fear is that we may need you to perform an assigned tasks in a timely manner sometimes, so we need someone who can be able to meet up with executing assigned tasks in a timely manner.

    We need your service because I am constantly out of town and presently in Quebec, Canada. I will return to the states next two weeks so this process will be on going till then. If you don’t mind, I will meet up with you when I return and then we can talk about the possibility of making this long term.

    As an Office Receptionist Person, your activities among other things will include;

    Here is an overview of the job description

    Duties and Responsibilities:
    • Sort and verifies bank transactions.
    • Verifies keying of data and corrects errors.
    • Performs other related duties as assigned.
    • Running personal errands.
    • Work independently without much supervision.

    Qualifications: To perform this job successfully, must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.

    ** Basic wage is $550 Weekly.
    ** Hours: 10-15 Hours Weekly
    ** Days: 2-3 days Weekly

    Please note that this position is not office based for now, it’s a part-time work from your location for now. I would like to give you an immediate trial, so if you are interested kindly get back to me. As I have been checking files and schedules and would need someone urgently to run some tasks for me this week/next week. My Financial Adviser will issue you a Certified Company Check to execute the task with, and complete the assignment. You will need to Purchase gifts and items for the kids(Foster Care) which i will send you a list and description of the items, alongside delivery address when purchased. Note that you are not to use your personal funds. I will get back to you with more information and Here is my Direct email ( jer.ben@parmalatbakeryinc.com ) Forward your details to my direct email, with your Personal/Contact Details such as Full Name, Physical Address and Cell Phone Number to get started.

    The employee acknowledged the Trial and Detailed Job Description
    and signed _____________________________
    (First Name and Last Name of Employee)

    Thanks in anticipation of your prompt response
    Yours Sincerely,
    Jeremy Benjamin

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