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Chino Businessman Loses $468,000 in Internet Scam

Victim of Nigerian style email scam
Did you ever think, “This couldn’t happen to me?” or “how could anyone fall for this?”

Well, people still fall for scams… and people right in our community too!

Leagle.com, a website dedicated to making legal content and the knowledge contained therein more accessible and discoverable than ever before, published a story about a dispute between a Chino businessman and our own Chino Commercial Bank…

This happened just last year and the disputes around the rip-off have been making their way through the courts…

According to the Leagle.com web site, local businessman, Brian D. Peters was the victim of a Nigerian-style email scam. He agreed that his corporation would receive money supposedly owed to a gentleman in Malaysia and would then pay that money out as the gentleman directed in exchange for a 15 percent fee. His corporation received checks totaling $808,988.90 and deposited them in an account with Chino Commercial Bank. It then had the Bank pay out $468,000. Thereafter, all of the checks that had been deposited bounced.

Faux Themes Inc. (Faux or the corporation) is a corporation in the construction business. In March 2008, it opened a checking account with the Bank. Both Peters and Marilyn Charlnoes were authorized signers on the account. Peters was the president of the corporation; Charlnoes was the treasurer of the corporation.

Until April 2009, the average monthly balance in the account ranged from $3,000 to $5,000; the deposits in any one month never exceeded about $10,000.

In March 2009, Peters received an email supposedly from Husaine Norman, a citizen of Malaysia. Norman said that certain third parties in the United States and Canada owed him money; however, they were insisting that “they can not transfer the funds to any bank account outside America continent due to their new company policy.” He asked Peters to “assist me in receiving the funds and forward to me.” He offered to pay Peters 12 percent of the money. Peters agreed (apparently after negotiating an increase of his fee to 15 percent).

On April 30, 2009, Faux received a check for $178,000; Peters had Charlnoes deposit it. On May 8, 2009, the Bank confirmed that the check had cleared. Charlnoes then had the Bank wire $80,000 to a bank in Hong Kong.

Also on May 8, 2009, Faux received a second check, for $373,988.90; Peters had Charlnoes deposit it.

On May 12, 2009, Charlnoes had the Bank wire another $71,000 to the same bank in Hong Kong.

On May 15, 2009, the Bank confirmed that the second check had cleared, and Charlnoes had the Bank wire $317,000 to a bank in China. On May 21, 2009, Faux received a third check, for $257,000; Peters had Charlnoes deposit it.

On May 22, 2009, the Bank was notified that the first check had been altered, so as to change the name of the payee to Faux. On May 28, 2009, the Bank was notified that the second and third checks had been similarly altered. Because all three checks were dishonored, the account was overdrawn in the total amount of $458,782.60.

Dann H. Bowman, the president of the Bank, met with Peters. Peters brought along all of his email correspondence with Norman. Bowman told Peters that he “had been caught up in a check cashing scam.” At one point, Peters remarked that his arrangement with Norman “seemed pretty fishy to me . . . but, times being what they are, I decided to take the chance.” Peters testified, however, that he “did not knowingly participate in the scam . . . .” Indeed, he noted, he was a victim of the scam.

When the Bank got back the original checks, it examined them and found that they had been altered “with an acid that was originally used by architects to remove ink from blueprints…” They had no “facial irregularities” or discolorations, smudges, misalignments or disturbances of the backgrounds or watermarks . . . .” The alterations were “in fonts and type sizes that were consistent with the other printing on the checks.” In accepting the checks for deposit, the Bank had acted in conformity with its own procedures, which were “consistent with industry procedures nationally…

According to the article and the opinion of the writers, it appears that Mr. Peters will be ultimately held liable.

Read the story… | Source: Leagle.com | Posted: 5/26/2010

Note: Some sources may require registration

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST SCAMS

Con artists have been around before the Internet. But the reach of the Internet and the fact that there are still so many intelligent people who haven’t learned about the proliferation of these kinds of scams online makes many still susceptible. We have to believe that Mr. Peters was sincere and just thought that he had found a good business opportunity, but offers for money made online must always be viewed with suspicion. In fact, you should never trust a business proposition that is made to you via email unless you can be certain to verify the identities of all involved beyond any reasonable doubt.

1.) The best policy is to have a “not interested policy” to any solicitation that is made online… If you did not ask for the information. This is the very definition of spam and is technically called “Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE). Think about it… by using a search engine, you can find ANYTHING that you are looking for. So why should you reward people or companies that break the law to send you offers, no matter how good they sound. If an offer or an idea sent through email really sounds good, then rather than respond to it, just use it as a way to begin your own search to educate yourself on that idea. Do it yourself. Find your own resources.

2.) If something sounds too good to be true, then assume that it is.

3.) Make sure that your home and office computers are protected by virus and spam protection software. Almost all computers come with this or at least offer it. Say yes to this. It has become an absolute necessity and part of the computing process; no longer an option.

4.) Never panic when online. One way that many con artists work is to collect millions of email addresses and send out email messages that contain alarming messages. These will often say that someone has hacked into your bank account or accessed your web site files, etc. They are usually followed with a request for you to log into a private place. The trick is that most often the web site you’re really going to is a “spoof” of the actual one. Yes, they will copy the real web site word for word and picture for picture and try to get you to log in so they can capture your passwords and/or private information. Before you know it, they are accessing your bank accounts, social security records, shipping accounts, and anything else they can.

The lesson here is that you should not follow links to important web sites like banks or credit unions from emails. If you have to access your online bank to check something, just type the address into your web browser’s address line rather than clicking on links in emails (where fake sites can be obscured within the programming).

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May 27, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Like they say,”If it sounds too good to be true,it most likely is”. I have to believe that those who fall for these scams are driven by greed. Its hard for me to feel sorry about it except I have contempt for those who perpetuate the scams.
    I’ve actually received several such emails and instead of discarding them, I prefer to play along and waste as much of their time and effort as humanly possible.
    Anyway, just my opinion and take on the subject. Interesting read.

    Comment by Jenny | October 24, 2011 | Reply


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