Computer Crime Research Center


Woman rocked in Internet fraud

Date: December 02, 2007
By: Andraya Whitney

Susan Alford is not a criminal. She is not trying to bilk her bank out of more than $8,000. Yet, that is exactly what Downey Savings tells her she is doing.

Alford, a local resident, fell victim to a check scam that is increasing in frequency across the country. She met a man on the Web, started a friendship, agreed to do him a business favor and was then scammed out of $8,000.

Now, Downey wants her to reimburse the money it expended to cover the checks, and representatives of the bank are telling Alford she committed bank fraud.

In late August, Alford met a man who called himself Richard Smith on the Yahoo! Personals Web site. Smith said he lived in Hackberry, giving his address as CIG-K12 N. 89. He included a photo on his profile site, and he forwarded Alford a copy of his passport when she requested a better quality photo. Alford said she figured the man must be legitimate if he was sending her a copy of his passport.

They started chatting and e-mailing each other often, including talks about Smith helping Alford open her own business one day.

The 'favor'

In October, Smith told Alford he needed a favor. He wanted her to deposit a couple of company checks from one of his business clients into her bank account. Later, he said, she would need to transfer a portion of the money to a charity in Nigeria.

He said her bank's branch manager, Judy Amber, was a friend of his ex-wife, and Amber likely would inform his ex-wife about any moneys that he placed in his own account. Alford expressed concerns about the appearance of someone with her level of income depositing hefty checks in her account, but eventually she agreed to do so.
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