What is this scam?
May 30, 2005 3:52 PM   Subscribe

A friend applied for a "work from home" internet-based job, and the reply he recieved sounds sketchy ... Is this a scam? Are they money laundering? Is he going to get screwed somehow by participating in this?

The e-mail he recieved back from the company was as follows (identifying info removed):

Thank you for your resume. Your resume has been reviewed and accepted. Please read the text below.

We are looking for honest and smart people for this position.
-Basic Internet knowledge and access to a computer with internet connection, (e-mail access).
-Western Union in your city.
-Possibility to visit a bank or cashing location any day of the week if needed. It is better if there are cashing
-Adults only.
-Must be able to work without supervision.
-10 to 15 hours per week for communication.

Job description:
You will have to receive and cash payments from our clients (Wire Transfer and interac e-mail money transfers) and send money to our company representative by Western Union.
Your fee is 5-7% of the received sum:
First transaction - 5%.
Next transactions - 7%.

It seems fishy to me, and to him. But I can't quite put my finger on exactly the problem. Is there any way this could be legit?

The e-mail address led us to http://ecurexchange.com which seems like it could be legit (though I'm still a bit skeptical - especially since I couldn't find their supposed Financial Times quote on the Financial Times website anywhere) but for all we know it's a spoofed e-mail address how would we know?...

Thank you MeFi detectives for your assistance.
posted by raedyn to Computers & Internet (26 answers total)
Is this a scam? Are they money laundering? Is he going to get screwed somehow by participating in this?

1. Probably.
2. Possibly.
3. Definitely.
posted by ori at 3:56 PM on May 30, 2005

If it's too good to be true...
posted by gramcracker at 4:00 PM on May 30, 2005

Response by poster: Also, just to be clear, I'm asking because I'm trying to convince him to steer clear of this, but he's not listening to my warnings of "this doesn't feel right" so I'm looking for something a little more concrete/specific that he may be more likely to listen to.

And if it runs out I'm just overly paranoid, that's okay, too. But with something like this it's my opinion that you should always err on the side of caution.

posted by raedyn at 4:04 PM on May 30, 2005

Ask yourself: if you are in charge of a company that needs to regularly transfer cash payments, would you do it through someone you hired on the internet?

Did they interview him? Did he speak with anyone over the phone? Does he know their physical address? Do you think any sane, responsible company would reroute cash payments to someone over the internet?

They're just phishing for his financial info.
posted by ori at 4:06 PM on May 30, 2005

There may be a legitimate (sort of) purpose behind this. I've heard of people being used as cash couriers on behalf of online gambling companies who's business is refused by Western Union and places like that, or something along those lines. Sorry, not sure of the details, I just know of something exactly like this with Asian horse racing, or cricket or something.
posted by loquax at 4:13 PM on May 30, 2005

This sounds pretty similar to a common Craigslist scam. The money your friend would recieve is most likely fake, cheque or confirmation email. The bank cashed the cheque, and your friend withdraws whatever amount and sends it by Western Union. The problem is, the cheque is fake, but the money your friend sent is real. The bank will hold your friend responsible for the missing money, while whoever is running this operation has the cash. Western Union is not responsible, and really there's no way to track the recipient.

And besides, a company that allows complete strangers to handle their money, and gives them responsibility to move it around for them with no way for accountability? How could that possibly be legitimate!
posted by orangskye at 4:20 PM on May 30, 2005

While we're on a roll, here:

The website is registered to one Stas Kovalsky, in Russia:

Stas Kovalsky (drod77@yandex.ru)
Koramzina 23
Tel. +7.8129125604

From the terms-of-service:

By using the services offered on this website you (the client / member) agree not to hold any party or persons liable for any errors resulting in a loss of funds which resulted directly from the information provided by you either using our order forms, direct email, phone or fax. Also you agree not to hold any party or persons liable for any third party actions that may result in loss of funds.

Your search - "D&C Trading Solution" - did not match any documents.
Your search - ecurexchange - did not match any documents.

Their own website mentions the company name is "D&C"; the header graphic says "DGC".

Shall we go on?
posted by ori at 4:24 PM on May 30, 2005

a) The company "D&C Trading" shares an office with a pre-paid phone card vendor in the US and a clothing store in Russa.

b) "D&C Trading" isn't actually a registered corporate name in the state of New York.

I'm going to suggest that it probably is a scam of some kind.
posted by cmonkey at 4:24 PM on May 30, 2005

Oh, and if a company just refers to their "company number" in order to sound legit, and makes no mention of which specific state or agency agency assigned that number, you should assume that something's not right.
posted by cmonkey at 4:36 PM on May 30, 2005

Tell him definitely not to do it--at all.
posted by amberglow at 4:38 PM on May 30, 2005


Website: http://www.ecurexchange.com
Phone USA: +1-902-462-2519
Fax Toll Free USA: +1 888 562 2122

The toll-free is not in service from my calling area, tho that might be because I'm in Canada. The USA phone gives me an answering machine. Not that if you Google the phone number, you find two other companies with identically-worded websites, terms of services contracts, and phone numbers, but different company names: we have goldex.net

Corporation Name: Ironbrand International Ltd
Number: 1560262

Address: Lev 2 / 3 Broadway. Newmarket. Auckland.
Postal: PO Box 9606. Newmarket. Auckland.

The other is "Gold Trader International", which has a generic frontpage name and invites you to contact the "principles" via MSN, AIM, or ICQ.

Smells fishy? Smells like a goddamn fisherman's wharf. Okay, I'm done here.
posted by ori at 4:43 PM on May 30, 2005

Yes, it's a scam. They'll probably be sending him fake wire-transfers. The bank cashes the check, then, after he's sent the money on they'll come after him for it.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 PM on May 30, 2005

You will have to receive and cash payments from our clients (Wire Transfer and interac e-mail money transfers) and send money to our company representative by Western Union.

This is a standard scam. The payments he receives will be fakes, but good fakes. He'll cash them and wire the money on. A week or so later, the bank will realize it's had a fake payment deposited, and it will deduct the money from his account. Stuff like this is on Craigslist a lot; it's scam #3 here.

That said, I'm not sure exactly what is meant by "wire transfer and interac e-mail money transfers". How long do banks have to wait for these to be verified?
posted by mr_roboto at 5:22 PM on May 30, 2005

If I were your friend, I'd be interested in contacting the FTC and a few other agencies to see if they're interested in the information, as well as ICANN and/or the webhost to see if they'd yank the domains. (Though there may not be much that anyone can do since the scammer seems to be in Russia.)
posted by Tuwa at 5:33 PM on May 30, 2005

I'm wondering if the sleuthing done in this thread should be passed on to the FTC, FBI, INTERPOL, etcetera.

Hell, maybe it's worth setting up a scam-busting site just for this sort of fun activitiy.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:17 PM on May 30, 2005

Just to add a little local information...

There is no entry for Ironbrand or Iron Brand in the Auckland telephone directory.

A little googling reveals that the PO Box in Auckland is owned by a local firm of chartered accountants.

I'll forward them this post and see if they have anything to say about it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:54 PM on May 30, 2005

Please take a look at the discussion here:


I'm the person posting with the name "I am Joe's Spleen".

Could you please explain your connection, or lack thereof, to ecurexchange.com, Ironbrand International, and work-from-home jobs handling Western Union transactions?

I'd be happy to repost any comments you have.

Yours sincerely

We'll see what happens.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:09 PM on May 30, 2005

as well as ICANN and/or the webhost to see if they'd yank the domains. (Though there may not be much that anyone can do since the scammer seems to be in Russia.)

ICANN doesn't have anything to do with this, but the website is hosted in America by The Planet.
posted by cmonkey at 7:26 PM on May 30, 2005

Go team! I expect we'll have their dental records by tomorrow morning.
posted by ori at 10:38 PM on May 30, 2005

Okay, this is just for fun -- but here's more interesting stuff:

Phone USA: +1-902-462-2519

Well, not exactly -- I did a reverse lookup, and that number resolves to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Fax Toll Free USA: +1 888 562 2122

I did a reverse lookup on this one and it didn't resolve at all. My guess: it doesn't exist. Can any of you Americans reach it?

If you google for this number, you find that "Goldex" (the one allegedly in New Zealand) has a phonebook entry for Seattle:

104 6th Street, Suite B, Lynden, WA 98264

Okay, jackpot. So dozens of different businesses (that I can find) are operating under this address, including webhosts that mysteriously disappeared.

A user on that messageboard reports that:

This company, and probably any company with that address (search it in Google and be amazed) is not American. The company that leases 104 6th Street Suite B is called "Valis Group" and can be found at www.valisgroupinc.com and is a Canadian company that sets up foreigners to LOOK like the real American deal.

ABZMedia, who also has this address, is a fraud from Holland and has scammed several people out of thousands. For more information, compare the two web pages:
www.abzmedia.com (which no longer shows the Lynden address)
www.abzmedia.net (which is a warning to users)

Now the trail leads us to Valis Group Inc., which claims to be incorporated in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

They have a Canadian subsidiary, "Valis Group Canada", which is located (well, supposedly) in Vancouver:

VALIS Group Inc.
10th Floor, Marine Building
Vancouver, BC V6C 2G8

I live in Vancouver, so if anyone's interested, I can check out the site. I bet Valis is not directly responsible: what they do is sell legit-appearing US merchant fronts for scammers around the world. They lease out the Lynden address to anyone who wants it.

The same post on that messageboard reports reads,

If you are using a web hosting company from the above address, check your bank records immediately. Report any fraud to Lynden Washington police www.lyndenwa.org c/o Detective Lee Beld at beldl@lyndenwa.org

Well, this is as far as I got. Someone should email detective Beld and invite him to check out this thread. Admittedly, some of the links are tenuous. We can't be sure that the person that attempted to "employ" raedyn's friend is actually associated with ecurexchange & co.

raedyn, assuming you have convinced your friend that this is a scam, would you mind sharing more details (email, originating IP in the email headers, etc.)?
posted by ori at 11:02 PM on May 30, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you all for your help. This mountain of suspicious-looking stuff (plus a few little details we've found on our own) has convinced my friend that this can't be legitiamte. So he's carefully going forward to try and get any more info out of them that he can. I'll share any information as I obtain it.

As of right now, he replied to the e-mail I quoted at the start of the thread saying he's ready to start, it all sounds great, but he hasn't heard back from them.
posted by raedyn at 7:27 AM on May 31, 2005

"Valis Group" and can be found at www.valisgroupinc.com and is a Canadian company that sets up foreigners to LOOK like the real American deal.

The RCMP fraud squad should be involved in this too, then. If this group is anything like the lottery scams run out of Quebec, the RCMP will be keen to investigate.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2005

Response by poster: More background:

My friend found this "job listing" through an otherwise reputable job website. I know people that have gotten real professional jobs from advertisements on the site, and the site advertises extensively around town so it's not a complete scam job site. We're planning to contact the job website and inquire what they do (if anything) in terms of checking into potential employers they sell advertizing to. Hopefully we can get them to yank the ad (which is also running at sister sites across Canada).

On that job website, there are two nearly identically worded 'job listings'. Listing A (the one he replied to) claims to be located in Calgary but provides no further information on the company. Listing B claims the compnay name is Dolenger & their address is supposedly 83 Galaxy Blvd in Toronto. Googling that addess shows that it's technically in Etobicoke and while there are several (non-suspicious) companies at that address, google, msn & yahoo can find no Dolenger there. The e-mail I quoted at the top was signed with a Russian-sounding name at Dolenger LLC. Safe to assume the two ads are affiliated.
posted by raedyn at 8:25 AM on May 31, 2005

Response by poster: New email from the company:

All business is constructed as a payment gate between real money and money "virtual" (for example: e-gold, evocash etc.) For example the person wants to fill up the virtual account in system e-gold with the western union, it does transaction into our company, and we enlist on his account in e-gold. If the client lives in Canada and wants to transfer money from the bank account it does a remittance on your account. You receive this transfer and we enlist on "virtual" account of the client the necessary sum.

Territorially we are in Russia. Payment from Canada in Russia goes 2-3 weeks. We cannot so long to make out payments of our clients. Therefore you are necessary for us. Your job is to receive money transfers from our clients. The detailed instruction will follow each money transfer.
I will try to explain by the following example:
You have received a payment for the amount of $1000, and send it to us via Western Union. I.e. you deduct the commission of $70 from these $1000 (1000*7 % = 70). You will also have to pay WU commission, so from the difference you deduct WU commission ($50). Therefore your transfer will equal $880. On the average in a week you will receive 7-10 payments on 1000-2500$ everyone. You will take your earnings from each payment which receive.

Interesting that the worker is supposed to deduct 7% and 5%, but the webpage says it only costs their clients 1%. The math doesn't work very well.
posted by raedyn at 8:58 AM on May 31, 2005

Yeah, that's the Western Union scam linked to above. If he keeps playing along, he will receive a fake cheque in the mail. Be careful about providing personal information to them, tho.
posted by ori at 10:22 AM on May 31, 2005

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