It was once observed that you cannot cheat an honest man. It is, however, possible to mislead a decent but nevertheless desperate one into doing something that they know is not strictly on the level in hopes of saving themselves from ruin. Such is the case with the new crop of check-processing scams masquerading as legitimate work from home opportunities.
These “opportunities” start out with an appeal for help in getting around some sort of semi-plausible sounding obstacle in the form of unreasonable bureaucratic obstruction of an otherwise legitimate business transaction. In the case of the new “logistics coordinator” scam, the offer is couched in terms of difficulties in making cross-border monetary transactions which can easily be overcome by bringing a local citizen on board to get around these silly restrictions. The idea is that the local will agree to serve as a simple conduit for these money transfers. The local receives the funds, deposits them in their own bank, and then forwards the bulk of the proceeds into their employer’s account in return for a nice, easy commission on every transaction. It sounds like an absolute no-brainer and in fact it is, since one would need to have no brain at all in order to agree to such a proposal.
The scam operates through the use of checks which have had their monetary value altered through various means. These inflated-value checks are then deposited in the dupe’s bank account and then the bulk of the proceeds are forwarded to the scam originator’s account. Eventually, of course, these checks will bounce and the middle man will find themselves in very serious financial and legal trouble. The scammer is already gone with the money, while their new “employee” is left to repay thousands of dollars in fraudulently obtained funds as well as enormous bank fees. This is not the big part of the difficulty, however, since that person is now technically involved in counterfeiting, wire fraud and even bank robbery.
This leaves the victim at the mercy of prosecutorial discretion. Courts have long held that ignorance is no excuse. They can be held as fully responsible as the actual inventors of the scheme if the local prosecutor so desires. Avoiding involvement in such enterprises is not particularly hard to do.
The key is to reverse roles and ask yourself if you would do what the scam operator proposes if you were a legitimate business. Would you, for example, send tens of thousands of dollars in business proceeds to someone you have never met before who lives in a foreign country and who could easily take the money and disappear? The answer is obviously negative. Put it another way. Would you mail your wallet to a stranger in another country and ask them to send you back 95% of the money that was in it? Obviously, that would not happen if you were running things. Why is it reasonable to suppose that someone else would do something so foolish as a legitimate business strategy?