I talked to this guy who is always posting about earning money without having to do anything and asked him how he did that. He told me that his aunt was the leader in a temporary service job and what she would do was to sign a check in my name as if I worked there and then he would send me the money by mail because he is in the United States and I'm from Portugal.

I don't fully understand how this would work and so I wanted to know if what his aunt is doing is even legal and if I should go forward with it?

The last thing I want is to get in trouble for things that I don't even understand.

  • 85
    Believe it or not, theft is illegal in the US.
    – Ben Miller
    Jun 17, 2015 at 0:22
  • 89
    Ben, can you provide a reference to back up this statement? Jun 17, 2015 at 2:10
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    She "signs a check" and he sends you "the money"? He sends "money"? Or he sends the check? Why does he send it rather than her? And then what? (I suspect I know what comes next, but you don't actually indicate that anything comes next.) Jun 17, 2015 at 8:05
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    @JoeTaxpayer statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.31.htm#31.03
    – Paul
    Jun 17, 2015 at 23:37
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    Believe it or not, I'm the attorney of the late Prince Mumwagwa Buangu from Botswana. Due to ongoing tribal wars, the rightful heirs need assistance in getting the family treasure worth 75 million dollars out of the country. If you are willing to cover some minor administrative fees on the order of 25,000€, I would be happy to reward you with 2.5 million once the transfer is done! (darn it, I should have written this in pidgin English...)
    – Damon
    Jun 19, 2015 at 18:02

5 Answers 5


The way they are tricking you is that they will ask you to send some of the proceeds of the check back to them, after you deposit it in your bank account.

So, lets say they send you a $2000 check. You deposit it, send them $500 over western union. And then the bank pulls all $2000 out of your account (the value of the check), leaves you with a negative $500 balances and freezes your account because it took them 3 days to figure out the check was bad.

You'll also be in trouble with several authorities. (Whether you send the actual fraudsters money or not)

The people that "enlightened you" made some money. They get away with it because you don't know their name or anything, the check was written in your name, which is the main paper trail. There is no temp agency.

  • 49
    Absolutely. If it sounds too good to be true, that's because it isn't true.
    – keshlam
    Jun 17, 2015 at 3:24
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    They might be engaged in money laundering rather than check fraud.
    – Mark
    Jun 17, 2015 at 6:56
  • 2
    For further information on why noone will give you their wealth confer link. Jun 17, 2015 at 10:55
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    This post is one plausible theory of what they're up to. But with the minimal information given, they could have any of dozens of other scams in mind. So if they don't try to pull this particular scam, don't assume that that means that this is legitimate.
    – Jay
    Jun 17, 2015 at 13:42
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    Kind of a tangent, but why does depositing a bad check get you into trouble with the authorities? Isn't it the fault of the person who gave you the check? How are you supposed to know if it's good?
    – user541686
    Jun 19, 2015 at 9:15

When you do this, you might be involved in online banking fraud - and you will be both perpetrator and victim!

Hacking some online banking users is easy. There is a flourishing black market where any wannabe hacker can buy a banking trojan. Then the hacker just has to infect some random computers with said virus (through email spam, drive-by downloads exploiting a browser vulnerability, upload it concealed as other software on a piracy website, etc., etc.) and it will trick the user into sending money to accounts they don't want to send money to.

However, what's not so easy for the hacker is holding on to the money, because sooner or later the victim will notice. In case of online banking fraud, the bank is usually legally required to pay back the money the customer lost. Banks will usually reverse the transaction when the customer reports that they were hacked. So what do the criminals do?

They hire some gullible fools out for easy money as "Mules". The job they offer: "We send money to your private account, you send it to another account we specify, minus your commission". What happens next?

  1. The hacked Victim inadvertently sends $2000 to account of Mule.
  2. Mule sends $1500 to the bank account of Hacker in some remote country, keeping $500 for themselves
  3. Victim reports fraud, bank reverts the transaction from Victim to Mule.
  4. The $2000 are booked back from Mule back to Victim.
  5. However, the $1500 transaction from Mule to Hacker was completely willing and intentional. Mule's bank has absolutely no reason to reverse it, so Mule is out of $1500. When Mule wants that money back, they need to go through legal channels. That, however, means that they will have to answer some very uncomfortable questions, like why they appear to be involved in the activities of an international criminal organization for financial gain.

So the actual victim in this scheme is the mule.

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    And moreover, Mule → Hacker transaction uses a non-reversable transference, like Western Union.
    – Ángel
    Jun 18, 2015 at 13:20
  • And how does the hacker make sure that I'm willing to send him the money isntead of keeping it or even taking the money and go with this to the police?
    – Zaibis
    Aug 14, 2015 at 12:53
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    @Zaibis When you do that it doesn't matter. As I said, accounts to hack are not a scarce resource, mules are. When you keep the money, it gets reverted and everyone (victim, you and hacker) get out plus/minus zero. When you go to the police, they might start an investigation, but a clever hacker will know how to avoid being traced. In either case, the hacker will just keep looking for mules.
    – Philipp
    Aug 14, 2015 at 15:31
  • +Zaibis I may have misunderstood your original question, but it sounds as though the Aunt is going to cash "your" check in your name, then send you money. So, she cashes $2000 check, keeps $500, sends you $1500. Reversal happens, you lose $2000 and the Aunt keeps her $500 leaving you at -$500. Not sure if she could cash a check under your name, but this is how it sounded to me.
    – Skyl3r
    May 13, 2016 at 13:26
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    @Zaibis Since you are dealing with criminals, there is always the chance that you will get an unwelcome visitor if you keep the money.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 9, 2018 at 11:21

You didn't say why this person or his aunt would want to give you money. What service are you performing for them? Why would he want to give you money?

Simple, practical tip: If somebody offers to give you money for nothing, or a large amount of money for a trivial amount of work, there's about a 99.99% chance that this is a scam. In real life, it is disappointingly rare for millionaires to pick random strangers and give them money for nothing.

  • 9
    And if they do (chance is much less than 0.01%, I'm afraid), they won't need such a complex scheme.
    – o0'.
    Jun 17, 2015 at 8:55
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    @Lohoris Good point. If someone says, "I saw your name on the Internet and decided I would like to give you a million dollars for no reason," I'd say the odds that that is legitimate are pretty small. If they went on to say that before they send you the million dollars, they need you to send them $1000 to bribe some official or prove your good faith or something, the chance that this is a scam rises to so close to 100% that, well, I'm sure playing the lottery has better odds. Sitting on your front lawn waiting for money to fall out of the sky probably has better odds.
    – Jay
    Jun 17, 2015 at 13:37
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    @Jay : Better odds indeed. Because it happened at least once after a cargo plane's door fell out (I don't remember where did I read it, but it doesn't sound too implausible). However, I'm pretty sure there is no reported case of receiving the 1 million dollars after sending them the $1000 fee.
    – vsz
    Jun 17, 2015 at 15:26
  • You mean John Beresford Tipton isn't in business anymore?
    – DJohnM
    Jun 18, 2015 at 1:23
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    Obviously if I genuinely wanted to give you 1 million dollars and if I wasn't willing to pay the fee, I would pay the $1,000 fee for you and send you $999,000 dollars. For the same reason, no lottery will ever, ever ask you for money to send your winnings to you. They will pay whatever fees there are and deduct it from your winnings.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 9, 2018 at 11:24

Money has to come from somewhere. It can't just appear. So if there is really an aunt at an agency, and she is sending checks, then she is writing checks from that company, and stealing from that company. If that is the case, then the person with whom you are in contact would be using you to launder money (hide its illegal origin) and when the aunt was caught, you would be also. If it is really being done between countries, then it might be more difficult for them to find you, but it is still illegal.

However, it is also likely that your contact may be using a common scam, as described by another answerer, that of asking for money in return for a cashier's check. Although cashier's checks were designed to be "safer" than regular checks, in that they won't bounce, if it is a fake cashier's check, it was never worth anything in the first place. When the bank tries to claim the cash from the other bank, and finds it doesn't exist, or there is no record of that check, then the effect is similar to that of a personal check bouncing: the bank will want the money back.

If you have already given a portion of that money to your contact, chances are, when your find this out, he will be long gone.

I would not have anything further to do with this person.

Good luck.


Practically every time someone claims to "earn" money from doing absolutely nothing, they either inherited it (sometimes at a young age), or they are lying about how they made it. In fact, they might not have made any money at all. Sometimes they may even be running a ponzi scheme. In order to earn money legally, you have to actually earn it. If you aren't giving anything in exchange for money received, you didn't technically earn it. That doesn't mean the only way to make money is to earn it, it just means that in order to earn money, you have to actually take a risk or do some sort of work.

It sounds like this person's entire story might be a scam designed so that he can steal personal information about you (bank account information, etc.) or get your info so he can write bad checks in your name. Here are some of the biggest holes in his story:

  1. His aunt, if she is even a real person, signs a check in your name. This means that she is engaging in check fraud, which is illegal under U.S. law and can carry some serious consequences. It sounds like she would be writing a check and signing it with your own name, and then presumably this guy would cash the check and send the money to you. In the best case scenario, you likely would never see the funds in your account, but your bank account wouldn't be cleaned out. It sounds like he may be trying to steal your bank information so he can take your money. Worst case scenario, this guy and his aunt write all sorts of fake checks in your name and get away with it because everyone thinks you wrote the bad checks, since they had your signature. This could potentially get you in a lot of legal trouble, especially if they use your real bank information on the checks. They may even try to get your bank account info to "send the money to you" but in reality, they just take the money in your bank account and disappear.

  2. Why would she sign a check in your name and have her nephew cash it instead of simply making the check out to you and sending it to you directly so that you could cash it? That would save a lot of time and hassle. This seems like an extra, unnecessary step and is extremely suspicious. He probably has no intention of sending you any money at all and he just wants your bank information.

  3. The guy says he wants to send you the money from a check written in your name, but why would he just send you money in exchange for nothing? People don't send money to other people for free unless they are giving a gift or are giving to someone in need.

As amazing as it sounds to be able to simply have money sent to you for free, it is almost certainly a scam, and you should avoid giving this guy any personal information about you, no matter how tempting his offers are or how good his scheme sounds. Especially when it comes to finances, if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. This can be an easy concept to understand in theory, but it can be very difficult to resist some schemes, especially if they are perpetrated by well-respected people.

A famous example of a too-good-to-be-true financial scheme was Bernie Madoff's investment scandal. He was a highly respected Wall-Street financier who perpetrated the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He pitched a legitimate investment strategy and fooled many people into "investing" (and eventually losing) large sums of wealth with him.

All of that is to say, if you feel confused about someone's investment or money-making scheme, and it seems too good to be true, do not give that person your information or invest any money with them. You won't receive any money in your bank account, you'll just end up getting scammed.

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