Advice please for a tenant - SCAM - Posted by IL Guy
Posted by IL Guy on September 10, 2004 at 16:57:07:
I was originally contacted by this man (Richard lets call him) about 3 months ago by means of roommates.com where I have an advertisement placed. This site has served me well and provided me 2 other roommates that have both been decent, and seems to be a better way to find a roommate than an ad in the newspaper or flyers around town.
He had originally mentioned that he was from ‘out of the country’ (Nigeria) and was coming to St. Louis for a 6 month work program at a company his Uncle owned in the city. At this point you’re thinking ‘Ah the old Nigerian scam’ and in a sense you are right, as it was a scam, however as you will see, this is one of the most well put together and spirited con-men I’ve ever run into. We had gone back and forth for about a month and during that time exchanged basic information. He gave me details on the company his Uncle supposedly owned in St. Louis, gave me pictures of his home town back in Nigeria and the place he was staying in New York. He told me about his Uncles business back in Nigeria and how he was planning on one day taking over.
Because I’ve heard of other scams and such stemming from Nigeria in the past, I was very cautious and careful about dealing with him. That’s the reason I asked for so many details about him, his Uncle, the company, etc. I had phone numbers for him, his uncle, and things of that nature.
Basically after negotiating an above market price he agreed. To add ‘flavor’ and believability he had me also ‘negotiate’ with his Uncle. We end up having him agree to my terms of demanding payment up front before I would send him the lease and documents necessary to recieve his ‘proof of abode’ in Nigeria to stay in the states for 6 months. He agreed to make payment by a certain date, and I made plans around this. I exostentially turned down one possible roommate because of this guy specifically, and his demand for an extra month. He offered extra payment during negotiations in exchange for the wait, and I went along with it.
The final ‘catch’ to all this, was that he was going to send me an extra $2500 in the check, of which I could keep 500 but he would need me to Western Union wire the other $2000 right back to him in Nigeria so he can book his plane ticket.
He ended up at the 11th hour trying to trick me, and said that instead of wiring the money to me through Western Union, said he needed my bank account information to send it to my account directly. He wanted my bank number, etc and offered an extra $300 for the ‘inconvenience’ in the change of plans. I was too smart for that, and just said I will have to accept it via Western Union or Cashiers Check only. After a small argument he conceded, and said he would send me a check.
Just recently I ended up recieving a check, overnighted from UPS and including a return address in New York. I went to my local bank, examined the check closely, and deposted in my account. I asked the teller her thoughts on it. She said it looked like a normal Cashiers Check, and that I could expect the funds to be made available that same day, as Cashiers Checks are ‘almost as good as cash’.
After depositing it, I don’t touch the account for a good 2-3 days. After that I go back to business as usual, paying bills, etc. At this point I have not sent any money back to him because I am still trying to find out if he will truly need it, I sent him an email saying I’m sure his Uncle would provide necessary costs so that he can get here and start work immediately, but he said it was his Uncles idea on how to get him the cash for this, as his Uncle was in New York and Richard was in Nigeria still.
Yesterday I get Richard calling my house asking that I immediately get to the bank and send him the money from Western Union so that he can book his flight and be on his way immediately as he is set to be here this next week. I go to check my online banking and notice that my account has been frozen/suspended and under investigation. My cash has all been siezed and it tells me that the FBI has been ‘notified’ that I may be participating in attempting to cash a false check and decieve a Banking Institution.
I will also say that this guy was skilled, he had answers for everything, provided completely fabricated information about the company, about where he was at in New York, and did everything he could to get money out of me. Obviously the way this scam is supposed to work is that I simply give him my bank information and he wipes me out. His second attempt was with this check, to give me a check worth zero, and have me send him back $1800 of my money or the banks money. I was intelligent enough to avoid letting him get a penny out of me, but I’m still down due to huge bank fees and the time-loss of cash I could have had from a roommate that may still be at my place paying rent should this guy not have existed.
I guess in the end he spent maybe 30-60 bucks sending a package from Nigeria or New York, plus the time it took some expert to create this fraudulent Cashiers Check. This thing was a perfect duplicate of the real thing that took the Bank of America, one of the biggest banks in the country, SEVEN DAYS to even start questioning. Based on the fact that a full week had passed between the time they credited my account with the cash and the time it took them to pull it back, a couple of the police are telling me they may have violated some law and that I may be able to get my money back if I get a lawyer, but if you think about it, it will cost me at least $2000 for any lawyer out there, so in the end I still lose.
OK in a nutshell I’m just wondering… Only today, September 10th did Bank of America take any initiative to call me and say that this check is fraudulent. Before today, I would have to figure things out on my own. I cashed this check on the 31st or the 1st and the teller had told me the cash would be available immediately because it was a cashiers check and not a normal check. I was not under the impression that they could be faked, but apparently they can be.
Bank of America says that you ‘accept responsiblity by accepting a check and acting with it’ when in fact, didn’t Bank of America really accept this check and act with it by crediting my account the cash? Anyway they have frozen my account which is now in the red after they tried to pull out double the amount of the orignal check and I’m just wondering if I have any recourse. For letting the check get cashed are they legally entitled to follow through and take responsibility? I know I have no recourse with somone in Nigeria, I’m just wondering how to minimize the damage now.