Victim Location 22026
Type of a scam Employment
I was initially contacted by an individual by the name of Sandra Pat via text message. She indicated that she had found my resume on ziprecruiter.com and thought I would be a great fit for the Data Analyst/Admin Assistant position. She said that if I was interested I was to respond to the text to set up an interview. I replied to say I was interested. Sandra explained that the job was work from home, paid $25.75/hr and I was told to contact Angeline Felicia via google hangouts at [email protected] for a briefing and interview session.
I reached out to Angeline who explained that she was the interview manager, gave a brief overview of the company , who they were looking for as far as potential hires and said that if I had any questions I could ask them at the end. She then took me through a series of questions of which the answers would be forwarded to HR and that was the end of the interview. I wasn’t even aware she was conducting an interview. When I asked if we had reached the portion of the process where I could ask questions, Angeline disappeared. The next day I received another text from Sandra stating I had been told to report online at 8:00 AM but hadn’t and needed to get online with Angeline right away.
Angeline congratulated me on getting the job and told me to add my supervisor Julie Iwa[censored]a ([email protected]) on google hangouts. Julie explained my duties, sent me an offer letter and NDA to sign and informed me I would be given a training task every day for a week to prepare for the job. She also mentioned that the company left no stone unturned when it came to providing employees with state of the art equipment for the job, so a check would be sent to cover the costs of equipment for a home office and software programs. Also, upon completion of my tasks I would meet an agent for the company in the are and sign my W4 forms to get paid and what not. For a week I did a task a day, chatted back and forth with Julie via hangouts. The check came via UPS (with a tracking number) from a NY address. It was a cahier’s check from a TX bank and I was told to deposit it via ATM into my account. I mentioned to Julie that I was near a branch and could walk in and give the check to a teller. I was told the instructions were to deposit the check via ATM (it was semi threatening). I deposited the check and got a receipt.
Every day Julie asked me if the funds had cleared. The day they finally did she asked if there was a Wells Fargo near where I lived. I told her I did not think so. She asked about Bank of America. I told her yes. Pleased, she instructed me to go to my bank, take out $4,700 cash and deposit it into an account at a BOA so that a local vendor could purchase all my home office equipment and ship it to my house. This set off red flags. If I wasn’t going to purchase the items, why not just sent the money to the vendor yourself and send me the equipment. I told her that was too much money to simply be carry around and that I didn’t feel safe doing it, so I wouldn’t. I asked if I could do an electronic transfer instead. She said that would be fine and provided me account info. The info wouldn’t go through. The account she wanted me to deposit the money into was at a bank located in CA, under the name Qingshan Wang, but the routing number was for VA. She checked the account and finally gave me the right info. The account was created, but I had to verify it with a bank representative.
I told her the bank wanted me to call them before I could transfer the money. She said I could always do the cash option. I told her there was no way I was going to my bank to take out that cash. She then said that if the BOA account was given me problems I could use a Chase account instead under the name Yun Fang. The BOA account was verified, I did the transfer and she wanted proof of the transfer. I told her there was no proof, it was electronic (no was was I going to send her a screenshot of my bank account). I told her the back said it would take 1-2 business days before Mr. Wang would see the money in his account. She said Ok, but something still didn’t feel right to me.
I had been skeptical of the company from the very beginning. I researched them online multiple times, but there was a "valid" website, "real people", real videos, etc. What I hadn’t told Julie was that (because of my skepticism) I had taken a picture of the check before depositing it. I called the bank in TX where the check had supposedly been issued and they told me it was counterfeit. I immediately called my back to cancel the transaction; luckily had I done the transfer early in the morning so it hadn’t reached the system for processing yet. Then I came to the BBB website and found that another person had fell victim to the same scam, under a different company name, but using the Julie Iwa[censored]a persona.
Julie just so happened to reach out to me via hangouts right when I was reading about the scheme and said that the vendor needed proof of the funds transfer before he could start processing my equipment for shipment. I told "Julie" I knew nothing was coming and has figured out the entire thing was a sham. I also told her I canceled the transaction, but if she wanted to straighten out the whole misunderstanding all she had to do was provide me with a number where she could be reached so I could speak with her on the phone. Julie didn’t respond, so I told her the money was all hers if she wanted to schedule that meet up with their agent for tomorrow. I’d give them they cash. Still nothing.
I have the hangout messages archived, the text messages stored and the image of the fake check saved. I also held onto the envelope the check came in. Luckily, I was able to catch this fraud before losing any money. Unfortunately, I was a bit too eager to land such a great job that I ignored warning signs that could have ended this fiasco earlier on. Hopefully my story can help someone though.