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I started helping out my friend's business a couple of months ago as a part-time worker. He's been paying me hourly through square. Couple of days ago he told me that he'll be sending me $6500 from the company and just send it back to the company through quickpay. I'm wondering what this could possibly be for, if its for tax reasons or money laundering or anything. I'm asking here because when i asked him he just told me not to worry about it.

Edit: He sent me the $6500 as a square payroll. Dumb me tried sending $2000 to him already, which caused my bank account to be locked. I called the bank and explained the situation and they unlocked my account after telling me to just be sure he's someone I can trust.

Also, I just texted him saying I don't wanna be involved so I'll just tell my bank to reverse the transaction. His response was "Oh it's for xx's E2 visa". This xx guy is kind of a key person to the business and the closest I've been working with. He has a degree and some experience in the field. Without this guy they'll probably have to close their business. They've been telling me that his visa is expiring soon so they are working on some documents for him to get an E2 visa.

By the way this business was started by a group of friends of mine this year. I just started helping them out a few months ago while searching for a full time job. They're all new to this. If it's a crime, I don't think that they really understand what they're doing. They have a pretty good reputation in the city as well and the reason I'm using the words "business" and such without getting into detail is just my amateur attempt to be as anonymous as possible so that this post won't hurt their business in any way. I'm not trying to back them up. Crime is crime. Just wanted to share some more information.

Also I don't really need advice on whether to keep my friendship or not. I'm gonna admit he's not really a close friend of mine. But that's not really what I'm asking. I just wanna know what his exact intentions could be and what kind of trouble I could be in.

Also also I never really post in these forums so I'm sorry about my noobness.

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    "or money laundering". That, or he's trying to scam you. Is this a tangible friend that you actually see in person, or an Internet "friend" that you've never met face to face? – RonJohn Dec 24 '19 at 20:44
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    Let me guess: The "friend" is someone you met on the Internet but never actually met in person, and you are "helping them out" by doing stuff online but you never actually visited their physical offices. Correct? – Philipp Dec 24 '19 at 20:54
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    I see him in person pretty often and we have several mutual friends. I don't really think it's a con, he's new to this business so I think he just doesn't know what he's doing lol btw my account got locked cuz it was suspicious – jake espinosa Dec 24 '19 at 23:55
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    @jakeespinosa, maybe, but if the employee then pays it right back it's a sham transaction and would likely be regarded as fraud. – Charles E. Grant Dec 25 '19 at 4:39
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    The mention of a "visa" suggests that this transaction might be part of a "funds parking" scheme, for purposes of immigration fraud... – rackandboneman Dec 26 '19 at 0:14
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The most likely result is that you'll send your "friend" their money and they will disappear forever. A couple of weeks after you've sent the money, the bank will find out that the original deposit was bogus:coming from a stolen check, a forged money order, or someone else's hacked bank account. The bank will then want their money back, and you will be on the hook for it. If you search for 'scam' on this site, you'll see a dozen different variants of this con game.

Less likely but still possible issues are embezzlement, money laundering, or tax evasion. You don't really want to play a role in any of those either.

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    If you know this person in the real world, that makes the first scenario somewhat less likely, but not impossible. It still sounds like a very sketchy sham transaction designed to deceive someone. I'd still advise you to steer well-clear. If your bank locked your account because the transaction looked suspicious you should be on red alert, because banks see a lot of scams and are better at recognizing them than you. – Charles E. Grant Dec 25 '19 at 0:22
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    Tell your bank you recieved funds and don't know where from/why. Get your bank to process returning them. Do not do what your 'friend' is asking you to do, it doesn't make sense. Do not return it to your friend as cash either. – djsmiley2kStaysInside Dec 25 '19 at 12:58
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    Note that your bank has way more information about the transaction than you do. The bank do not lock accounts "just" for a $6,500 transfer. It got locked because the funds are most likely stolen or illegitimate. Do not do anything your (now ex) friend says. Report to the bank and let them handle it. And this guy is no longer your friend. Stay away from him. – Nelson Dec 25 '19 at 14:17
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    so he sent this money to you and your account got blocked? I would call bank asap – hvertous Dec 25 '19 at 14:23
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    @jakeespinosa and by trying to stay as anonymous as possible, not telling us up front the tangible friendship, we are left assuming that your "friendship" and "job" are just like all the other scams we see on the forum. More information is always better (without becoming incoherent, unstructured, rambling walls of text) because it means we can give accurate answers. – RonJohn Dec 25 '19 at 17:42
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ahh sorry for my confusing explanations but It was only one time when I tried sending $2000. The $6500 came through this morning without any problem.

You have done it once already. That changes everything. What you did was probably illegal. You need to minimize the damage.

You need to talk to a lawyer. And you need to do it now. Or even better, yesterday. Tell them everything, and take their advice. Don't talk to your friend. Don't talk to your bank. Don't trust strangers on the Internet. You need to get help from a specialist in your jurisdiction. Please contact a lawyer now.

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    @jakeespinosa exactly. You did it once, so you are already in trouble. You need professional help, i.e. a lawyer. – Polygorial Dec 25 '19 at 21:47
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    Make sure you understand that ignorance is NOT innocence. A judge will nail you for money laundering if your friend is trying to launder through you. Don't hide anything from the lawyer. – Nelson Dec 26 '19 at 2:59
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    @jakeespinosa I think there are basically two reasons to go to a lawyer instead of the bank. First, if you go to the bank you might reveal things that will get you into more trouble than you currently are. And secondly it might be possible to get a deal, especially with law enforcement. A lawyer can help you out with this, but if you give information to the bank first you loose your bargaining power. – Polygorial Dec 26 '19 at 15:31
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    This is my last post in this question. Reading all your comments from all answers it seems clear to me that you're trying to convince yourself nothing is wrong. And that's fine, but I don't want to spend my time if you don't want to listen. I won't give legal advice, but a lawyer might be able to. GET ONE NOW. Before you have one DON'T COMMUNICATE WITH THE "FRIEND" as you might get in more trouble than you already are. And DON'T TRUST PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET, you NEED A LAWYER. – Polygorial Dec 26 '19 at 18:46
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    @jakeespinosa: "I wanna talk to him about it and maybe suggest going to a lawyer together. Is that a bad idea?" That is an extremely bad, maybe worst possible, idea. – Daniel R. Collins Dec 26 '19 at 19:42
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It's hard to tell from what little information we have what exactly is going on, but one thing is sure: it's not normal.

Whether your "friend" is trying to cheat on taxes, trying to steal from you, trying to steal from someone else, trying to steal from the company they pretend is theirs, trying to launder money, trying to cheat a financial institution, trying to cheat a financial partner or investor is irrelevant. Something shady IS going on, there's absolute no doubt about that. There is NO legitimate business pattern which would justify this kind of back-and-forth with you in the middle.

Stop any of that immediately. Your "friend" is not your friend. It may be difficult to hear, but you've been conned. Whether you'll get in trouble because you'll be on the hook for some vanishing money or because the FBI will knock on your door is unknown, but you'll be in trouble. Don't hesitate. DO NOT talk to "your friend".

Now, you have two options:

  • You report it to your bank AND the police, explaining exactly what happened and that you think something wrong is going on.
  • You talk to a lawyer first as suggested by Polygorial.

Do not accept any further payments. DO NOT make any further payments. Not in any way, shape or form. No bank transfer, no credit card, most definitely no cash, no money order, no Western Union. DO NOT pay a cent.

Again, DO NOT tell your "friend" anything. The authorities may want you to continue "collaborating" with them in controlled conditions, so don't close the door on anything, just don't talk to them at all until the authorities tell you what they want you to do.

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    Even if that "friend" were to be trustworthy, he is most likely being duped (and controlled) by a scammer. – vsz Dec 26 '19 at 10:58
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Another possible reason is he is writing it off as paying you while he creates a 1099 that you got paid out 6500. You will be forced to pay taxes on it if he files it. He will be able to write it off for the company.

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    Yup that's what I was initially thinking and he didn't wanna tell me but apparently not. I've edited my post with some updates if you wanna check it out :p – jake espinosa Dec 25 '19 at 21:06
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    Surprisingly, the IRS is not the biggest risk. They’ll ask him for the taxes, but when he tells them what happened they’ll take a really HARD look at the company. Unless it’s not USA, in which case the IRS is irrelevant. – WGroleau Dec 25 '19 at 21:12
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    @WGroleau In that case the local equivalent of the IRS is probably still interested. – Mast Dec 26 '19 at 8:30
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    My point is that if this is a tax evasion scheme instead of a direct scam, it will backfire. – WGroleau Dec 26 '19 at 16:42
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This is a funds parking scheme for defrauding immigration services.

  • The employee seeking a visa "invests" in an unscrupulous company with some cash sum ($100k or so?).
  • The company shows that the capital was used to improve the business by appearing to spend it on contractors (OP's $6500) and other expenses.
  • After the visa is secured the company claws back the money and returns it to the original employee.
  • Employee gets a visa for "free."

This is a criminal enterprise. But that's not even the most worrying part to me. This part is:

If it's a crime, I don't think that they really understand what they're doing.

There are too many indicators to the contrary to believe this. The visa was about to expire. They went seeking an investor-class visa, which requires documentation of conspicuous expenditures, to retain the employee. $6500 magically shows up in your account. Now you are being asked to wire it back. This did not happen by ignorance.

  • They dragged you into an immigration fraud scheme.
  • Your personal account is being locked out and is most certainly on some AML radar on the bank's end.
  • You seem to have caught most of the consequence for this so far.
  • They didn't even have the decency to offer a cut of the money for yourself for the inconvenience or risk.

They are amateur criminals. They've already proven they aren't looking out for you, else they wouldn't be asking you to do this. What are you getting out of this that warrants your participation?

In my experience, this won't be the last time either; the requests made of you will only escalate, and the plausibility of your denials will only decrease the longer you continue to do business with them. This will end with them begging you to stash stolen goods at your grandmother's house to keep the business afloat.

Run.

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    Turns out you're right. I talked to them on the phone and they admitted it's illegal, however unlikely gonna get caught as someone said in another response. I'm really disappointed. They're really not just random strangers I've met online. We're part of a sports team and we've even flown across the country to participate in a tournament. Anyway yeah I'm out, I'm not gonna be part of this. Time to cover up my ass lol – jake espinosa Dec 27 '19 at 23:26
  • @jakeespinosa Good on you for getting out now. Every criminal thinks it's "unlikely he'll get caught" - if he thought that was likely he probably wouldn't be doing it! – Steve-O Jan 6 at 19:26
  • @jakeespinosa "however unlikely gonna get caught" -- maybe, but you don't know that. As criminals go your employer/"friend" is sloppy and narcissistic; people like him only get more brazen the longer they are uncaught/unpunished. DHS has been long-aware of the rampant fraud in the various investor visa programs and started cracking down on it in late 2019. This may yet blow up in his face. Good on you for keeping out of it. – Ivan Jan 9 at 21:12
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I've been working in the information security business for some years and this is indeed a pattern that fits that of a scam. It can take many forms, like malware making it look like someone transferred money.

It can be the case that your friend is just an idiot, who is trying to be smart by trying dumb business tactics. The chances of this are very small and your main focus should be your own financial health. Like people said before: contact someone at your bank or a lawyer. They wil probabily help you contact the cops, or help you quit your part-time job, or help you transfer the money safely. Seek advise from professionals. Don't hang around with, or contact, those guys until this whole thing has been properly handeled and you can be sure it was a mistake and that it won't happen again (obviously don't contact them again if they are indeed criminals).

As an original side-note: if someone would ask me to "not worry about" 6500 bucks I would just go beserk. This is not money to be messing around with. You don't just go transfering those amounts without an agreement, it's just plain rude to command you (not ask, tell) to transfer it to somewhere else. I'm telling you this because from your story it reads like you're - in my opinion - too soft when it comes to money. It's normal to demand money-related agreements in writing. They say you can't fool an honest man, so making sure your transactions are 'honest' should not be taken lightly.

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    "Honest" doesn't mean "smart" or "wise", so "you can't fool an honest man" is arrant nonsense. – RonJohn Dec 26 '19 at 1:04
  • That's what's meant in the saying, I believe. – Graa Dec 26 '19 at 10:53
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    You get an upvote by applying Hanlon's Razor. Maybe he is not malicious, he (the friend) is just an idiot. – Mindwin Dec 26 '19 at 12:46
  • We're on the same sports team and we have a tournament coming up... this is gonna be awkward lol – jake espinosa Dec 26 '19 at 13:00
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    That's tough man. Everyone here is talking like it's no biggy to just call the cops on a friend, but that can damage your reputation and your social life. Maybe it can be as simple as having a conversation where you tell them that this isn't the way you want to do business. Just be careful and I wish you the best :) Merry Christmas! – Graa Dec 26 '19 at 13:25
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In addition to the other good answers suggesting that your friend might be trying to scam you, it’s also possible that they could be telling you the truth and they might not be trying to take your money (and might not even file documents requiring you to pay extra personal taxes)...but you still don’t want to be involved.

If they are indeed trying to secure an E2 visa for one of their key people, their story could hold up and you might get your money back. But in this case, their goal is presumably to manufacture capital in a way to deceive immigration authorities and inflate the key person’s actual investment in the business, or perhaps inflate the size of the business itself. This means that even if you’re getting all of your money back, you are potentially involved in immigration fraud. Stay away.

  • Thanks for your advise! I don't expect to get any back since I'm not losing any money though. They're the one who initially sent me some money as a payroll and they're just asking me to send it back through quickpay (which I'm not going to do). I'm just going to ask my bank to reverse the transaction of $6500, but I'm also thinking of asking him if he understands what he's doing is illegal next time I see him for a sports tournament. So what exact law is he breaking? Do I just tell him it's an immigration fraud? Any helpful sources would be great. Again, thanks a lot! – jake espinosa Dec 26 '19 at 14:46
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    @jakeespinosa As mentioned in several of the answers, we have no way, based on what little information we have, of knowing what exactly the scam or fraud is. We only know it is, but there are dozens of possible options. If you talk to your "friend" they will spin some BS to you and convince you nothing is wrong, when most definitely something is. If you don't want to listen to the advice given here, be careful, be very, very, very careful. – jcaron Dec 27 '19 at 0:24
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    @jakeespinosa You really need to see a lawyer or go to the authorities, but the absolute worst thing you can do right now is to acknowledge to him that you suspect this is fraud or laundering and are considering going along with it anyway. Do not confront him. Do not accuse him of anything. Do not even discuss it politely with him. In all contexts he will downplay the criminal aspect and any uncoached discussion of the matter will make you complicit. See a lawyer, immediately. – Ivan Dec 27 '19 at 20:23
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since you seem to trust them and they're claiming this is for a visa application it's probable that they're simply inflating your salary in order to meet the "comparable pay" requirements of the visa. as such, they will probably get away with the fraud. nonetheless, if they do get caught, you would also be implicated since you are now documented as understanding you were abetting fraud. i wouldn't expect you to see jail time, but some fines and probation would look ugly on your criminal record, possibly preventing you from getting jobs in the government and finance sector. also, i'm not a lawyer, so if convictions and fines aren't scary enough to make you stop, then you should probably ask a member of the bar if jail time would be on the table.

1

This operation has nothing to do with taxes or laundering. It is for certain a well known process to steal money from the company. A while after the two operations (you receiving money, you giving money), the fraudulent operation at the company's bank account will be uncovereed, the company's bank will ask the money back from your bank, and you'll find yourself partner in crime or much more likely victim, and you'll owe the money to your bank.

Don't accept any quick money from a company, unless you're having business with it, under a contract, stating that you're buying a product or service.

The most likely legal "friendly" transactions are between companies within the same group, or between the company and one of its owners ie., shareholder, physical person or moral person (company), involving a change or capital. If you're not a shareholder this will not happen. If this happens, you're a shalerholder, you should know it, and you'll very likely go through lawyers and miscellaneous signatures.

Of course, your "friend" is in no way an actual friend, even if you know this person well. This person is a criminal (or becoming one) or partner in crime.

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