It's one of the oldest scams in the book, but it's still going strong. The predators mainly target elderly citizens with job offers that are phony. Our consumer was about to fall for the trick, but luckily he called me first.
"Thank God for you guys because I was ready to support him and go out the door," said DeDe Price of Mill Valley.
Price told us how she and her dear friend Peter Strauli came within minutes of falling for a costly scam.
"We're really exposed to rip-offs left and right," said Price.
It began when 81-year-old Strauli received an email offering a job as a secret shopper. He'd get paid to visit stores and secretly rate their service. He jumped at the chance.
"I'm retired and it would be kind of extra money and I think I can converse with people pretty good without letting them know I'm a spy," said Strauli.
Later he received a letter with a check, made out to Strauli, for an impressive amount of money.
"I'm astonished, $1,940. That's a lot of money," said Strauli.
"I was willing to support Peter in going to these stores and doing the transactions," said Price.
The letter instructed Strauli to go online, type in a job code and get his assignment. He should deposit that check, then wire $760 to someone in Greece, and $680 to someone in Spain. Peter could keep the rest of the money for himself. His job was to rate the two money wiring companies.
"I was ready yesterday to go to the bank and take the money out of my bank," said Strauli.
So Strauli deposited the check. The money appeared to be in his account. He and DeDe were about to walk out the door and wire the money as directed. Luckily, DeDe had doubts.
"You've given him money and now you want it right out of the country. It doesn't add up," said Price.
So, before leaving the house, the couple stopped to call 7 On Your Side and we slammed the brakes on this hoax.
"Seven On Your Side said, 'Hey wait a minute, if it's anything like that, if it's money out of the country. If it's this and that…' Thank God for you guys," said Price.
We told the couple this is an old scam. The check is a fake and if Strauli wired money, it would be his own and it would be lost forever. Sure enough, a week later Strauli's bank notified him the bogus check came back unpaid. The $1,900 was never there. Thankfully all they lost was a little pride and a little time.
"If you're ever in doubt, give a shout to 7 On Your Side," said Price.
"Being from Switzerland we don't have all this gangster-ism, I'm apt to believe people because I'm an honest man and it would be nice if other people would be too," said Strauli.
Many, many scams operate the same way. Whether it's a job offer, or a letter saying you won a prize. They send you a realistic-looking check, then ask you to wire some of that money elsewhere. Well you can be sure that check is a fake and the money you wire will be your own. I
If you get such a letter, don't fall for it, but do contact me here.