The suspect sends a money order to the victim. The victim is told to cash the money order, keep a portion for themselves and send the remaining cash to the suspect. The money orders are counterfeit. If the money order is cashed the victim may be held responsible for the entire amount.
The most recent case involved a Vermillion resident who received an e-mail from a suspect describing himself as an artist residing in London. He claimed he was having difficulty cashing money orders in the United Kingdom from Americans sent to him for his products.
He asked the victim to act as an agent for him by cashing money orders he would send to them. They were instructed to keep 10 percent for themselves and send the remaining money to the suspect. In a subsequent e-mail, the suspect provided two mailing addresses to the victim.
Both addresses were in Nigeria. The victim received two money orders which he attempted to cash. The bank recognized the money orders were not authentic and referred the victim to the police.
"In these cases there are red flags we immediately see," Police Chief Art Mabry said. "The first is the origin of the e-mail being either Nigeria or England. The second is the use of a money order. Third is the suspect gives the victim an excuse for contacting them and finally, it's easy money for the victim."
Police state that all four indicators were apparent in the recent case but warn the two that have been present in all cases are the origin of the e-mail being England or Nigeria and the use of a money order.
In some cases, the victim is selling an item on the Internet. The suspect states they want to purchase it with a money order. The suspect sends a counterfeit money order for more than the purchase price with instructions for the victim to send the extra funds to a shipper or other scam.