We received an email from Mr. Dave Jamie last month interested in purchasing a liquor store in Northern Alberta we have listed for sale. Dave has an African/Jamaican accent and claimed that he needed to buy a business in Canada. When asked why he wants to buy a business in Canada or how he plans to manage the business etc, he never directly answer the questions but simply said that he is a business man doing a lot of business in China buying and selling household items and knows what he needs to do to make money. He would not give the name of his company nor companies that he does business with. He has no questions about the business he wants to buy and intends to pay full price for it which immediately raise a red flag. His primary interest is to send us a cheque of $200,000 to "secure" the business and to fill whatever forms/contracts we need him to fill out. We told him that in order to accept his cheque, we will need to have an offer in place and when we send him a list of questions needed to prepare an offer, he does not appear to understand half of them but he keep insisting on wanting to send us a cheque to buy the business. After several rounds of communications, we learnt that this is a bad cheque scam that typically target law firms. It appears that the fraudsters are now targeting Business Brokers. Mr. Dave Jamie made a crucial error by calling our office looking for Pino. It turns out that Pino is a friend and fellow business broker at Pacific Business Brokers. After comparing notes with Pino, we come to the conclusion that this is the same guy using a different name. When he contacted Pino, he was pretending to be a Japanese (with Jamaican accent!!) using the following credential:
Name: Kong Kim (the Japanese name related to this cheque fraud http://avoidaclaim.com/2011/real-estate-bad-deposit-cheque-scam-by-shiukmoda-joji/comment-page-1/)
He used the following information when contacting VR.
Name of Sender: dave jamie
Email of Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 3030 Verde Street, Bakersfield, CA, United States
We have contacted hotmail to report his violation of Microsoft code of conducts and Microsoft appears to have shut down his hotmail account. He then email us using a newly created gmail account email@example.com. We have contacted Google to report him and haven't receive any email since, although he did call a few times.
This fraudster is obviously not very sophisticated and as such even though we have no idea at first that it is a scam, it smells fishy from the start. However, it is possible that people like him will become more sophisticated over time and it will be harder to detect them in the future.
What can you do to prevent being a victim of a scam like this? Below is a simple and effective strategy that is similar to what was recommended for detecting the Romance Scam.
1. Ask for a copy of their passport or driver's ID or any picture ID.
2. Then find an opportunity soon after receiving the photo ID to ask for another picture with very specific requirement, such as in front of a certain building close to where he or she claims to live, or wearing a specific color shirt etc. Alternatively, you can request for an online video conference via Skype or Google Chat etc.
It is unlikely that fraudster will send his or her personal ID in step 1 and as such unlikely to be able to fullfil the second request. Any prospective buyer who cannot fullfil both of those requests are unlikely to be a real buyer.
Submitted by Siew Cheng