Scams and despicable people

Over a month ago we ran an ad looking for a caregiver. It turned out to be a scam.

Although we operate under an age-old concept of “accepting advertising in good faith,” we regularly turn away business from scammers. Call it gut feelings or intuition, but our staff has had enough experiences and received enough advisories to be pretty good at ferreting out problem ads.

This time however, one dimension was added to the mix that made it that much more difficult to refuse the ad. In Ontario, all businesses have a duty to make every effort to assist those with disabilities. The person who booked the ad claimed to be hearing impaired. It was a wrinkle that we will need to address differently another time.

Here follows what happened to one respondent.

1. The party who placed the ad contacted this respondent and gave a long overview of what was required to take care of their mother/mother-in-law with detail of their four-hour, four-day needs. She was “precious” to them.

2. The respondent had returned from Scotland recently after taking care of an elderly sister with a like medical history and being recently a resident of Fergus, felt that apart from the proffered per diem she could provide meaningful assistance.

3. The scammers were moving back from Australia and were relocating to Elora.

4. The husband scammer presented himself as a well-known climate advocate taking up a new position with a university nearby.

5. His name appeared in Google research in Australia so it appeared genuine.

6. The respondent had numerous emails with the family as well as phone conversations. All seemed well.

7. A relocation address in Elora was given with an expected arrival date and meeting with the family set for June 5.

8. In the interim they sent via FedEx a cheque through a well-known Canadian banking institution requesting the respondent deposit and take a small amount of the total as a good faith advance and deposit the balance (in cash) with another well-known banking institution in Elora in the name and account of a banking client at that location who was to use the funds to prepare for their move into their new Elora address. An additional Canadian banking institution in Quebec advised the cheque could be deposited as the account was valid.

The outcome in the end was this: a local senior citizen is now out $4,000.

As the OPP attempts to investigate and find the fraudster, staff at the Advertiser will be even more vigilant about scam ads. Regrettably, as the correspondent on his wife’s experience points out, these are truly despicable people taking advantage of others. How sad is that?

Though we rely heavily on the old Newspaper maxim of “accepting advertising in good faith,” we try our best to weed out dubious ads. Our efforts in this regard will be even more vigilant, since these events seem to come in waves.

Respondents to advertising anywhere should know when an unknown party demands banking details or cheque cashing, red flags should go up – in fact, sirens should go off. Never, ever, send money to unaccredited sources or strangers.

Regrettably, the despicable people who engage in these activities inadvertently end up stealing more than money, robbing people of their faith in others.