How I was Nearly Scammed This Week
Recently, I signed up with three different online tutoring services, hoping to fill in my time with some local student tutoring since it appears I will be home for a while. Shortly after registering, I received word a parent wanted to communicate with me.
He introduced himself and said his son Tom, 13, needed help with writing. I quoted my hourly fee and he agreed, asking we start this week, for three times a week for at least four weeks.
Along the way, he avoided answering specific questions and his writing led me to conclude that English is not his first language. Since he was about to travel, he was having his lawyer send me a check and Tom’s caretaker would be in touch to arrange the visits.
He followed up a day or so later to let me know the lawyer cut the check but screwed up, including the caretaker’s fee with my own. Could I cash the check, deduct my fee and give the balance to the caretaker? Yes, in hindsight, this should have been a red alert but since I was getting paid, I figured this might be legit.
Days go by and there’s no check or a call from the caretaker. Instead, on Friday, I reached out to the father and explained I couldn’t tutor Tom this week without scheduled times. Now I’m getting emails that say the caretaker can’t come without first receiving the money and they’re visiting the sick grandfather and the language is getting more stilted and clearly not right.
I finally dig into the metadata and discover this guy is emailing me from a Russian address. Okay, I was being scammed and I stopped responding.
On Tuesday morning, UPS delivered a package containing a check for $2250. It had no note, no memo, and was from a bank in California from some Title Company but the package’s address said it was a construction company in Pennsylvania. Curious, I called the company and a weary sounding woman explained their account had been hacked and it’s a scam. I should destroy and never cash the check. I thought it weird and ripped it up.
After lunch, the phone rings and its Tom’s father, making sure I got the check, which he knew had been delivered. Ah ha! He wants me to check the front door and make sure I had it and email him back.
Yesterday, at 8 in the morning, the phone rings with a Connecticut caller ID and it’s the supposed caretaker, a guy with a Russian accent, asking if I got the check.
Well, as Scotty said in “A Taste of Armageddon”, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
I told him to go away and hung up.