Having Fun With a Scammer

Here’s a recent twist on an age old scam directed towards pet sitters that you should be aware of. I imagine it could be used on just about any type of service and I mention it here because there are many professional pooper scooper companies that also provide complimentary services like pet sitting, dog training or dog walking to name a few.

It started last week when I received an email from Nigeria, no wait, just kidding, it was from a person who claimed to be visiting my area from Puerto Rico for job training. In this particular case, it was a private investigation firm sending an employee to the U.S. to receive further training from a particular U.S. security entity for a month. He mentioned that he was bringing his dog and wanted to contract me to pet sit for him for one hour a day for a month.

“I almost started thinking to myself, hmm, self, maybe this is legit. Then I opened the envelope and saw the check.”

Now, anytime you can get a pet sitting gig for any length of time, you can make a decent amount of scratch. And since the grammar in the email wasn’t half bad, I decided to read the whole thing and play along. The first and subsequent emails were very detailed as to time, location, budget, etc. Apparently he got my pet sitting info from a pet sitting web site that I have a listing in, then proceeded to google a hotel in my area to make it look like he was indeed, staying in my area. Included in the details was more information about the protocol he had to go through to get payment approved from his firm. He needed references, cost estimates, referrals etc. All the standard info needed for making an informed decision.

The best part was, he stated almost up front what his allotted budget would be and it was only slightly more than what I would have charged him anyway, but who wouldn’t “pad” their rates a little, knowing this information ahead of time.

We exchanged the usual preliminary information in the course of 3 or 4 more emails over the next 5 or 6 days. Finally, he said I was approved and that a payment would be sent for the first week in advance.

This is when my Spidey senses started to tingle even more. Not that getting payment up front is a bad thing, in fact, most pet sitters require at least partial payment up front. Rather, it was that I got approved to begin with! I’ll confess something to you. I run a professional pooper scooper company and have done so for over 25 years. The only pet sitting I do is for a small handful of my current scooping customers. The only reason I have a link from the pet sitters site is because they have a pretty high page rank and I wanted the link juice.

Let me continue with the adventure. I did indeed, get a check sent overnight via FedEx. I almost started thinking to myself, hmm, self, maybe this is legit.Dog with money in mouth

Then I opened the envelope and saw the check.

Let’s see how many things I could find wrong with it:

  1. It was written for about $1500 more than the whole month would have cost.
  2. His name was not on the check.
  3. The check was written on an insurance company’s account. More on that one in part two.
  4. It was drawn on an account that was not real. More on that a little further in part two.
  5. There was no memo line, reference, address or phone number on the check.
  6. Surprise! I whipped out my handy Ultra Violet flashlight and it actually had security threads on the check.
  7. Not really check related, but the name on the envelope from FedEx was not his, and it was not from his claimed location.

Traditionally when this happens, it’s from a Craigslist ad. Basically the scam is this:

  • You advertise a product for sale on Craigslist.
  • You get an offer for said product.
  • The person making the offer is actually out of the country, but he’ll send his associates to pickup the item.
  • In the mean time, he will send you a certified bank check for several hundred or even thousands of dollars over the amount, claiming that since he is out of the country, he only has these in certain increments.
  • But that’s OK, because, you can deposit it in your bank account, then wire him the difference, and keep a couple hundred extra for yourself for the trouble.
  • A month or two later, the check comes back as stolen and your bank removes the whole amount of the check from your account.
  • End of scam

I contacted a few local pet sitters and asked them if they had encountered this fellow recently and this is what they had to say about this type of scam:

Lisa’s Lucky Dogs Pet Sitting www.lisasluckydogs.com

I think I scared him . I only talked with him thru email. I also asked for payment in full.
I told him I need a copy of his dogs shot records. I asked him for his fax number so I could fax over the contract. I wanted his contact info. I wanted to know which hotel he would be staying at and under what name. I wanted the name of his company he worked for and I wanted personal reference because he was coming from another state. Those are just a few of the things I requested from him. I never heard back from him.

And from Nikki at Got Paws? www.scvgotpaws.com
I ignored it all together. Didn’t even respond. I saw thru it so didn’t want to waste my time.

Apparently, I don’t mind wasting my time as long as I can have a little fun while doing it. Check out part two and see what I end up doing.