A Christmas Lesson for the Scam Artist

Untitled 1This is a continuation of our series on fraudulent contacts on the internet.

Recently, someone one using the name K. Reyes sent an email to a Private Investigator (PI) to hire security guard services. The PI contacted an associate that provides security guard service and got permission to send Reyes his contact information. Reyes contacted the manager of the security guard service (SGS) via electronic mail.

The email from Reyes follows:

“Thanks for the response, I had recently purchased this house not too far from your location and I need a security officer there until i get back from my trip. I work as mechanical engineer with a yacht company on the sea, so one of our ships has a mechanical problem in the middle of nowhere which was very emergent, they needed our attention almost immediately or else the goods in the ship would be rendered useless. I was sent there with my crew to crank the ship up and here we are, I thought it’ll be something minor, but it appears to be a time sensitive and consuming project. I should have just called to discuss with you but its never an option from here because you can’t even get a bar of service here it just comes and go. I would feel comfortable if I know that access control into my new home is secure and my home is safe because I left unplanned that’s the only thing I worry about here and as soon as you take care of it I think the burden in my heart will be lifted because I hate been insecure and its causing a lot of distractions for me in here. I had a very very bad experience with my former house while I was away sometime ago on a similar trip, someone broke into my home and took almost everything I’ve worked for, can’t get into details now but it kind of left me traumatized and I ended up selling the property. I don’t want history to repeat itself. I will like your service for 13 hours everyday for 14 days 6pm-7am.”

“Let me know the total cost and how much you would like to take as deposit, so we can get the ball rolling because I don’t mind having the security officer there asap!

The SGS manager emailed an invoice for $6,895 and a non-refundable contract. Reyes agreed to the amount and stated the following:

“However, I am having a little challenge concerning the agent handling the house for me. I didn’t have a chance to pay him before leaving and he does not have the facility to accept credit card so you will deduct your own charges and help me send his fee to him as soon as the money clears into your account so that he can send you the keys to the property. This will be the total breakdown, your service fee (deposit): $3,500, Agent’s fee: $7,200, Tip and merchant fee: $300, Total: $11,000.”

Reyes changed to text communication and repeated the money processing and changed the amounts. Reyes asked what information was needed to process his credit card and the SGS responded and received the detailed information to process the credit card.

An additional text message from Reyes advised that when the money was received that SGS should let him know so “they can get the ball rolling.” The SGS advised it would take five days to clear the $11,000, but it was deposited to the SGS business account in two days.

In the meantime, security personnel went to the home and found it was for sale. They contacted the real estate broker who advised that K. Reyes had nothing to do with the property. He was neither the seller nor the buyer.

When Reyes learned the money was received he changed the process again and asked the SGS to send a cashier’s check for $7,200 to a Bank of America account for the property agent. He also refused to sign the contract.

The SGS realized someone posing as Reyes was attempting to perpetrate fraud, and he had possession of funds stolen from the K. Reyes credit card. Further investigation attempted to prove who K. Reyes actually was to determine if $11,000 was stolen from his credit card. The investigation continues, but the scammer was neutralized by the SGS retaining his fees for security services. It is anticipated that these funds will be returned to the real K. Reyes.

The above matter is common today and could prove costly to clients. This scheme is more than likely originated in Nigeria. Nigeria does not have credit cards. The scammers purchase the credit cards from hackers on the dark web for $8.00 per card. They then spend their time using phishing email and text to find their victim that will help them obtain the money from the stolen credit cards. Beware of gifts from suspicious clients.

These frauds must be approached properly by a licensed private investigator.

If you or your client wants to be proactive to avoid these and other types of fraud requiring investigation by a licensed investigator, please contact Chief Investigator Edmond Martin of Sage Investigations, LLC at 512-659-3179, or email: edmartin@sageinvestigations.com. Let our 26 years as an IRS Special Agent and 16 years of Private Investigation benefit you and your clients. Please visit our website for our team and their CVs.