Identity theft almost cost me thousands of dollars
by Michael F.
I'm a 26 year old guy in Austin, TX and I wanna share my story on how I almost got scammed out of thousands of dollars of work by some scumbag, and ended up having to give testimony on behalf of one of his victims.
I am a freelance video editor, and when things are slow sometimes I head to craigslist to try to drum up a little business. I responded to this ad for someone requesting a little simple editing for a series of videos that he is creating for a website. We spoke over the phone, and worked out the details but things seemed fishy from the start. First, he was from the UK, which is no problem, because I have frequently edited footage for others without ever actually meeting them, so that isn't much of a problem. BUT he claimed that he wanted to film his videos in NTSC (UK runs on a system called PAL) and that he needed me to purchase the cameras in the U.S. and mail them to him as companies in the UK do not have any NTSC cameras in stock.
While a little skeptical, I decided ok what harm can be done if he put the money up front. He says it will take a few days because he has to get his loan or grant or something of the sort from his university. No problem. A few days later I receive a very authentic looking check from "Friend's University".
Being aware of identify theft scams, I decided to deposit the check in my bank account and wait until it clears before withdrawing any of the money. Sure enough, after a few days the check comes back bounced. I let him know that, and he claims it must have been a mix up and he will have his father send me a check ASAP.
About a week goes by and I receive a check in the mail via Fed-Ex, and it has a male name on it but under it reads plastic surgeon. I find this odd, as the person I had been speaking with was from the UK but this check was from Pennsylvania. A little upset over what I perceive to being an attempted scam, I search the internet for a phone number to this plastic surgeon. I find it and give them a call. After talking to his office manager I find out that this account has been closed for some time due to issues relating to unauthorized withdrawals but they had not had an issue with fraudulent checks. A few weeks later I end up issuing them a statement for their case and mailing them the check and Fed-Ex envelope that came with the check. I'm not sure how the case ended up, but I did realize two things...on the Internet if it looks to good to be true then it definitely is, and that if a doctor's office can get their identity stolen then anyone can.