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I live in New Jersey and my son wanted to order some toys from this guy who said he makes them in his house and he could give him the best deal, but before he could send these toys he needed my 16 year old son to put $200 into his bank account. The guy then gave my son his wells Fargo bank account info and told him as soon he deposits the money he will ship his toys. Well, that never happened.

My son called the guy up and he told my son, “I’m only the middle guy, and my boss is in Nigeria and you need to put another $200 in my account because now I have to ship the toys from elsewhere.” So my son deposited another 200 dollars into this guys bank account.

My son has sent these jerks a total of $650. Is there anything I can do to these individuals? At this point even if I don’t get the money back it’s okay but I don’t want this happening to other kids and I want to teach these guys a lesson that you’re not above the law. The guy is still calling my son up saying that he is pissed off that he didn’t get more money.

What can I do now?

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    How did your son send money? Does he have a bank account? Have you contacted Wells Fargo? They should have information like his name, social security number, address, etc. See what you need to get that information. Filing a police report would be a first step, and you can consider suing "Mike" and then subpoenaing Wells Fargo for what information they have. If they've been negligent in verifying "Mike's" information, an option would be to sue them and/or file a complaint for violating banking regulation. Also, how did your son find out about "Mike"? – Acccumulation Sep 13 '17 at 23:10
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    $650 for toys is a lot - what kind of handmade toys are we talking about here? – Mathemats Sep 14 '17 at 0:00
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    There is a reason scammers like this use Wells Fargo or Western Union for money transfers, and not other banks. Figure out for yourself what that might be, while you are kissing your money goodbye for ever ;) – alephzero Sep 14 '17 at 3:25
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    @alephzero can you give us a hint as to why scammers use Wells Fargo? I mean I know they make it so easy to open an account, they'll do it without even asking! But other than that, are they especially lax about security or something? – stannius Sep 14 '17 at 15:33
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    “…I want to teach these guys a lesson that you’re not above the law.” You know what? I am sorry this happened, but what “lesson” you think you will “teach” a scammer that somehow convinced your son to pay $650 for “handmade” toys? Others have said it in so many words, but honestly if your son is old enough to be able to send money to a Wells Fargo account, your son also needs to know that utterly nothing legitimate can come from are request like that. Live and learn: For $650 your son has now learned a lesson. – JakeGould Sep 17 '17 at 5:29
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I would imagine that it is unlikely that you will ever see this money again.

Here are some things you can do.

  1. Contact your local police. You have two complaints: the money being taken, and the continued harassing phone calls. Hopefully they will tell you what can be done and have recommendations for you on what to do next.

  2. File a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs. I don't know if this will do you any good, or if you even have enough information to fill out the online forms, but if you are having trouble getting assistance from the police, this might be another option.

  3. To address the phone calls specifically, you may want to contact your telephone company. There are things they can do to prevent further harassing phone calls from getting through. See this article from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse for more information.

  4. Teach your son to be suspicious online. You can't just send cash to "this guy" that you don't know and expect to get a good result. You may want to limit your son's access to cash if you think he hasn't learned a lesson here yet.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – GS - Apologise to Monica Sep 16 '17 at 10:02
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    An addition to #4 would be to teach him to only pay for goods from individuals (not businesses) is to use services such as PayPal, that have a solid case resolution process. – AStopher Sep 17 '17 at 13:20
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Nigerians don't have Wells Fargo accounts

It's pretty easy for foreign scammers to get a US phone number or email. A domestic bank account is a little harder. Very likely the direct contact is a US citizen or a legal immigrant. The Nigerian may be completely made-up to throw you off the scent. And that person can be found, dunned, or deported, and there's even a small chance of reversing the bank transfers.

It's also hard for foreign scammers to sound American on the phone, again suggesting a domestic scam or one with domestic agents.

A very particular set of skills

If you or your son is willing to do a serious amount of skill-building and legwork, you can uncover evidence by filing a lawsuit. Once you have done so, you can use the legal processes of discovery to force banks etc. to give you information they would never give willingly. There are countless details. Lawyers get paid to get the details right.

Suing actual people can backfire, they can countersue. But since you do not know their real name, you would probably be filing a "John Doe" lawsuit. "John Doe" is a placeholder: the idea being that you will later, through discovery, uncover the defendants' real names. For a novice exploring the legal system for the first time, there's a big advantage - John Doe never countersues or quashes, he never gets in your way or wastes your time... heck, he never even shows up in court!

And when you collect evidence via discovery, you can take that to law enforcement or immigration.

Own your dumbness

It goes without sayi-- well, there's no need to go into that. Just realize you did goof, and make sure you learn the lessons.

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    The problem with the idea it's someone from the states is there is a chance a person's being tricked into offering their bank account for the deposit only for them to Western Union the funds overseas later. Think of the scammer working a double con, one for a person to receive free money only to need to send some percent overseas, and the son was scammed the money too. – HarrisonT Sep 14 '17 at 7:30
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    @HarrisonT They still need to be stopped, in that case for their own good – Tobias Kienzler Sep 14 '17 at 8:43
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    The first line is funny because I would bet there are quite a few Nigerians with Wells Fargo accounts... =P – Mehrdad Sep 14 '17 at 10:03
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    There's a good chance the Wells Fargo account has been opened using a stolen identity. – thelem Sep 14 '17 at 11:03
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    It is actually a known issue that scammers not in Nigeria claim to be Nigerian. It's a weird example of double think but since Nigeria is so associated with scammers and shiftiness it should scare a smart informed person right away...these are not the people the scammers want to deal with – the other one Sep 14 '17 at 12:48
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You should immediately tell your bank you've been scammed, request for the transactions' cancellation or revocation and get back most - if not all - of the money transferred.

I've placed numerous orders online in the past and was always very careful about their trace-ability but I have to admit once I acted carelessly and got scammed. I didn't think of it much before placing an order for a very low priced laptop through a private seller on Amazon. I'd never purchased anything this way before but thought "Amazon will protect me if anything goes wrong..." so I sent an e-mail to the seller. He gave me his bank details (with Spanish IBAN) via a non-suspicious e-mail with the usual logos and e-mail address domain name, made the payment and guy came back to me saying he'll ship the laptop once he sees the funds received. Waited max. 2 days, trying to contact him but no response. Contacted Amazon giving the seller's ID and the "transaction"'s ID I'd received from him and they told me there's nothing they can do as that transaction is not recorded on their systems.

Immediately after realizing I've been scammed and done my goof, I contacted my bank via e-mail explaining the situation. I was informed that the transaction can be cancelled but they cannot guarantee the return of the entire amount. After 2-3 days, I saw my balance richer by €950 and the payment I'd made to the scum was €1,000.

I'd highly recommend that you check the fraud protection policy of your bank and in case there's something that can be done, then just get in contact with them explaining the situation.

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    This is odd. What happened to the last $50? – Mehrdad Sep 15 '17 at 5:36
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    The bank's representative told me that there will be some administration fees plus anything else required from the scum's bank to cancel the transaction. In any case I'm glad I got all that money back, I had already started forgetting about them as I thought it will be impossible to anything about it... – Panos Kordis Sep 15 '17 at 7:47
  • Ahh okay, yeah I was wondering if it was just fees or if it was somehow an odd partial recovery. Cool, thanks! – Mehrdad Sep 15 '17 at 7:51
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  1. Accept that the money's gone. It could, as others have mentioned, been a lot more.

  2. Learn.

    Make sure your son (and you!) have learned the lesson (at least try to get something out of the $650). The world isn't always a nice place unfortunately. Don't wire money to strangers - use an escrow service or paypal or similar. As the saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me".

  3. Report it to the authorities.

    Does have the advantage of the domestic rather than foreign bank account used. The scammer might have closed it by now, but there should be some paper tail. I imagine the id required for opening a bank account in the US is as strict as it is most places these days. They may have used fake Id, but that's not your problem.

    Assuming contact was made over the internet, bearing in mind IANAL (or American), this could be a crime of Wire Fraud, in which case I believe it's a case for the FBI rather than your local police. The phone calls your son is still receiving could also be construed as attempted extortion and if across state lines could also come under federal jurisdiction.

    The FBI have a better chance of catching such a scammer, generally having more chance of knowing one end of a computer from the other compared to a local beat cop. If other victims have also contacted the authorities, it will probably be taken more seriously.

    Give as much information as you can. Not just the bank account details, but all communication, exact time of phone calls, etc.

    The cops may say there's nothing they can do as it's a civil matter (breach of contract) rather than a criminal one. In which case you have the (probably expensive) option of going the civil route as described by Harper above.

  4. Inform Others.

    Assuming initial contact with the scammer was made through a website or forum or similar. I imagine this must be a niche area for hand made toys. Post your experience to warn other potential victims. Inform the site owner - they may ban the scammers account where applicable.

  5. Stop the calls.

    Block the number. If the number's being withheld, contact the provider - they should have a policy regarding harassment and be able to block it their end. If the calls keep coming, your son will need to change his number.

  6. Don’t let it get to you.

    You may have warm cosy fantasies of removing the guys kneecaps with a 2x4. Don't however dwell on the b*stard for too long and let it get under your skin. You will have to let it go.

3

DO contact the bank immediately. Many of them may be able to help you but have time limits, if you wait too long they can't cancel it. They might not, but it's always worth trying.

In addition, set alerts on your son's account, if over $X amount of money is spent it will alert you. For example if he spends more than $100, you'll get an email and you can verify with him.

protected by GS - Apologise to Monica Sep 16 '17 at 10:05

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