This is quite a nasty scam. An ad is posted looking for someone to handle payments for a company that is out of the country. The offer sounds wonderful: Receive payments for the company then wire them their share of it.
Here’s the catch: You’re participating in criminal activity. They’re breaking the paper trail by using you.
One version of this is that you receive payments made by people shopping on eBay. They think they’ve bought something and send the payment to you. You forward the payment. The criminals never send the item; in fact, it probably never existed.
In another version, they persuade you to share your bank account information, then simply clean it out.
If you do this innocently odds are you will not get in trouble. However, people have been charged with felonies for this, so a lack of knowledge is not a perfect defense. If you’ve been doing this already, the best thing you can do is go to the police and tell them everything. That’s far better than having the police show up at your front door to arrest you.
If You Get Scammed
First, try to clear it up with the company. If they are uncooperative, let them know that you will be contacting officials about the matter. Then do it.
- If you found out about the company on a website, let the site know so that they can take it off their site.
- Contact the Attorney General in your state or the state the company is in.
- Contact the BBB, both your local office and in the company’s state.
- Contact the National Fraud Information Center if this was a “get rich quick” or “easy money” scheme.
- Your local Consumer Protection Offices.
- The Postmaster if you received the offer in the mail.
- The Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has a Complaint Assistant website to help you file your complaint.