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Here's an interesting story. I lost my job and I needed extra income so when I was looking for a sugar daddy on Instagram, I met a guy. He claims that he is a Business Contractor and is working for UNICEF, currently building in Lagos, Nigeria.

We talked for awhile and he didn't seem like a scammer. Some weeks later, he asked me for my name, date of birth and bank information (routing and account number). After I gave this to him, he made two mobile check deposits of $900 and $1,200 into my dormant bank account (I haven’t used it for awhile because I have no money, no job).

I waited a couple of days for the checks to clear. I received a letter from my bank indicating that they had closed my account due to suspicious activity. FWIW, he also didn’t spell my name right on the check .

Two weeks later I received another letter from the bank. It stated: “As a follow up to the letter we sent you about the closure of your account, this check includes any remaining account balances”. Along with the letter was a cashiers check for $883. I didn’t have any money in my account when he had access my bank info so I don’t know where this money came.

I called my bank to determine if the cashiers check was real and the rep said that $883 was in my savings account and that I would be receiving another check for $12. With that verification, I cashed the check. The $883 is gone. It went toward my bills.

I blocked him when my was account closed. Yesterday, I unblocked him and texted him that I had received the money. He wants to send me more and he wants me to withdraw the money as soon as it clears, keeping $300 and sending him the rest of it through Western Union.

What do I do? Am I getting scammed?


Here is some more information. He was born in California and claims to be a Business Contractor building for UNICEF right now in Lagos, Nigeria. He said that he would be there for 2-3 months and then he’s going back home. He has visited many countries for his job. He is getting this money from UNICEF who he told that I was his secretary so that they would send the money to me. As soon as I heard that I knew that it was a scam. He also said, “You know the FBI don’t take shit, they never play with their money”. I have blocked him on everything and I no longer have any contact with him! Also, he will not video chat me because he says that the government will not allow him to video chat in Nigeria.

  • 18
    Check out money.stackexchange.com/q/71918/25694 to get an idea of how the scam was supposed to work. It sounds like your bank rightfully detected this scam and protected you, kudos to your bank! – MonkeyZeus Sep 7 '18 at 13:07
  • 72
    Should perhaps an auto-generated answer "This is a scam" be posted every time a question mentions Western Union? – pipe Sep 7 '18 at 14:31
  • 5
    How is it that the bank received checks for $900 and $1,200 and they are sending you a total of $895 ($883 + $12). What happened to the $1,200. – Bob Baerker Sep 7 '18 at 15:39
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    I'm puzzled. I'm assuming from context that you're in the US, so how exactly is a guy in Nigeria supposed to become your sugar daddy? I mean, a certain amount of physical contact is an inherent part of the job, no? – jamesqf Sep 7 '18 at 17:13
  • 15
    Seems a fake story, maybe OP's trying to perfect the scheme. – Pedro Lobito Sep 7 '18 at 23:56
60

It sounds like a scam gone wrong.

If the bank gives you a cashier's cheque, that cheque is good for value - it's not going to bounce unless the bank itself folds. But the bank might still come after you for reimbursement if they deem that it was paid out due to false impressions.

Try writing to the bank, explaining the whole situation as you've done here, and getting them to reply to you in writing about whether the cheque for $883 and the expected $12 are still yours to keep.

In the event that things turn uglier, you'd want the paper trail to show that you've been above board in your dealings.

Don't fall for the Western Union line. If he needs to make a payment to someone else, he can do it himself without involving you - him wanting the excess to be routed back to himself just makes it worse.

46

Yes, it's a scam. All the red flags are there.

Most scammers don't seem like scammers because if they did, they wouldn't be able to scam people.

The cashier's check you received from your bank sounds like it was genuine. Perhaps the money was in an associated account you had forgotten you had, perhaps he had deposited it and was intending to get it back later one way or another.

  • 15
    "Most scammers don't seem like scammers because...." Actually, this is completely false (both the premise and the conclusion). Scammers can scam more people if they seem like scammers so that only gullible people respond in the first place. See microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/… – Wildcard Sep 7 '18 at 22:21
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    @Wildcard maybe it can be clarified. "Most scammers don't seem like scammers to the ones whom get scammed..." – Sandy Chapman Sep 7 '18 at 23:01
16

Laundering

I reckon he's using an array of stolen funds (perhaps purchased on the dark web) to relay to your account. This way, you deal with the anti-fraud authorities, but of course, you're innocent. Sure, some of the money gets seized, but some clears successfully (ie. isn't detected as fraud deposit by bank) - and now the "sugar daddy" wants you to send him a cut, so he can receive some fruits.

So essentially, you're not the one loosing money here. Nor is he trying to steal directly from you. Of course, if you give sensitive information he can withdraw from your account, but that seems to be besides the point of this particular scam.

  • 2
    What does it mean to purchase stolen funds on the dark web? He's buying dirty cash at a discount and using it to launder it in this manner? If so, it would seem to me that there should be more efficient ways to launder money, particularly without using a bank and possibly involving the authorities. But what do I know? I use the money I print at local stores ;->) – Bob Baerker Sep 7 '18 at 14:21
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    @BobBaerker you're thinking too small. You could launder a normal persons salary that way, you couldn't launder 100x as much. And the objective isn't to get stuff per se, it's to make the money looks not stolen so it can be used in ways other than as cash. – Dan Neely Sep 7 '18 at 15:46
  • @Dan Neely - I think you missed the point of my question and you got sidetracked by my quip about my printing counterfeit money (an objective to get "stuff"). How do you use money in other ways than as cash? Cash deposited to account. Cash withdrawn from account. Cash sent to Nigeria. – Bob Baerker Sep 7 '18 at 15:55
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    @BobBaerker stolen funds need to be laundered in some way to avoid being swept up in bad activity checks by the banks like happened to the OP. You can't put millions in cash into your account without raising a huge number of red flags, so organized crime goes through massive contortions to hide the illicit origins of their money by trying to make it look like normal income. – Dan Neely Sep 7 '18 at 16:04
  • @BobBaerker If the stolen funds are at a bank, how do you launder them without using a bank? For example, often what you buy are other people's online banking credentials. See here for an example. – David Schwartz Sep 7 '18 at 17:24
14

So, as others have written, yes, it is a scam.

The interesting part here is the bank's reaction.

What was supposed to happen:

  • your supposed sugar daddy who doesn't work for Unicef and wasn't born in California sends money to your account using some fraudulent means
  • you receive the money
  • you send some of the money to him via Western Union, which you can't ever get back
  • the initial payment gets cancelled when the bank finds out it's fraudulent
  • so you lost the money you sent

What apparently happened is that the bank detected that the $1200 payment was fraudulent very quickly, blocked it, and closed your account. They did not (yet) detect that the $900 payment was fraudulent as well, thought that this was legitimate, and sent you that money (minus some fees or the like).

Now, the problem is that the bank could at some point find out that those $900 were fraudulent as well, and decide that you need to reimburse them. It's not necessarily going to be easy for them, but be prepared for trouble.

The other problem is that, as you have received, taken and used the money, you could be considered an accomplice in a fraudulent operation (it could be forged cheques, hacked bank accounts or payment cards, money laundering...).

  • Of course, don't send anything via Western Union to anyone you don't really, physically know (and you are sure that the person asking you to send it is actually the person they say they are).

  • Don't tell that person anything. Don't block them. Wait for instructions from the next point

  • Go to the police and let them know what happened. Their chances of catching the scammer are slim, but:

    • they could catch them
    • if things go really bad, you're on the right side, and it should help prevent you being considered an accomplice
    • it helps them detect and block further attempts

But be prepared to have to pay back the $900.

  • 7
    Be prepared to pay back to $900, but don't be too pro-active with it. In particular, make sure that it's paid back to the rightful owner. And that is likely not your bank. You want to avoid having to repay $900 twice, once to the bank and once to the victim, so demand that the bank confirms that its will take over the legal obligation to repay the victim (i.e. confirm you're off the hook). – MSalters Sep 10 '18 at 12:04
5

The request for you to cash a check, keep some, and pass some on is a classic scam. There is usually no legitimate reason to ask someone to do that, and it's an easy way to launder money.

The scammer sends you money via a check or direct transfer. This money is dirty in a way that probably won't be noticed for a few days. You receive it. The banking system nowadays is good at catching up to fraud, and your bank will remove the money from your account on finding the money was stolen or fraudulently sent or whatever.

If you have just left the money in your account, it will come and go and you won't have a problem. If you passed on some money to another person, then that will be considered a legitimate transfer, and you don't get to call it fraudulent and get it back. You're just out the money you sent on, as well as what you kept, and the dishonest person at the end has it. Sure, you can sue, if you can afford to start a lawsuit, but you'll undoubtedly find that the scammer is not in any jurisdiction that's going to pay any attention.

tl;dr: Anyone who asks you to accept money from them and send some of it back, or to another destination, is a scammer. Do not cooperate, and do not continue dealing with the person.

  • Why do you say: "If you have just left the money in your account"? She did leave the money in the account until the bank shut down the account and send a cheque for the remaining balance. She even called the bank to confirm that the cheque was legit. – kasperd Sep 17 '18 at 16:52
1

You are most likely an accomplice in money laundering. The scammer is using you as a third party to cycle money through. You are getting other peoples funds sent to you, as a test, then are asked to send to him through a valid bank account that you will not flag as being compromised. Your account got investigated because the money was sent to you from someone elses account who flagged it being compromised, therefore, funds being frozen.

0

100% SCAM. Read my story, similar to yours.

This happened to me back in Australia. I was searching for a job desesperately and I eventually emailed a business which were looking for a marketing assistant or something like that. After contacting them, few hours later I received a call which they wanted to hire me, they were looking for my profile and if I could start ASAP.

It all seemed too good to be true, I was going to earn arround 2000 AUD/month plus commissions, working half-time. I didn't know what I had to do, either when or where did I have to go but I signed a contract they sent me. I did read all of it and it seemed legit.

I was 18, alone in Australia borrowing money from my mum, living in a 5 persons shared apartment in a 2 person shared room paying weekly 180$ and eating rice + tuna each meal, to survive with the less money I could in order to not get my mum broke.

After a few days of signing the contract I did receive a call, it was arround 9pm. They wanted me to go to my closest bank and withdraw 2500$ they sent me and go to a western union and send it somewhere. They didn't specify where to send it until I had withdraw it and I was ready to send. I had to send it and I did send it and because it was the 1rst time sending I would keep all the comission which was 300$ dollars.

I knew something wasn't going as it should, it seemed ilegal but at the moment I was not realizing what was happening.

Anyway, I ended up with 300$ dollars and a happy face at the moment. Next morning my bank closed my account. I instantly went to the bank and asked what happened. After 2 hours in the bank, the money I withdrawed was stolen and washed through me. Someone used me and I just fell in the scam. I ended up talking with the police through the bank telephone, I gave all the info I had about these crew to the police. In the end it all went fine but such an experience.

  • did you end up having to pay the 2500? – Lassi Kinnunen Sep 19 '18 at 13:33
  • No, I only had to pay the 300$ comission that I earned, which was completely fair. They gave me the money back (the one I had in the bank account before closing it). – Raül Sep 19 '18 at 14:25

protected by Chris W. Rea Oct 5 '18 at 0:36

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