Watch out for common scam, cops say
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” Gretchen was supposed to make money working, not lose $3,000.
Gretchen, of Gypsum, responded to a classified advertisement that offered bookkeeping from home for a man who called himself “Marc Lohnie.”
Gretchen didn’t know that she was cashing forged Wal-Mart money orders, which Lohnie mailed to her in August, she said. Now she has to pay her debt back to her bank.
Gretchen ” who asked that her last name not be used because she was embarrassed about the scam ” is not alone. Lohnie, whose aliases vary, has scammed at least 20 people in the United States, said Detective Brandon Beaudette of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
The scam is a typical one and the work required is always “too easy to be true,” Beaudette said.
Local police lack the money to thoroughly investigate most Internet scams, and federal authorities have enough trouble keeping up with high-profile Internet scams, Beaudette said.
“The victim is stuck in the middle,” Beaudette said. “So the best way is to get smart on how these scams work.”
Gretchen saw the ad in the Vail Daily, e-mailed Lohnie and checked out his Web site, which had sales of electronics, cleaning products and other items, she said.
Lohnie’s site looked legitimate, so she decided to e-mail her resume, she said.
Lohnie e-mailed her an employment contract, which she completed and sent back to him, she said.
The job Lohnie hired her to do was to cash money orders. He couldn’t do it himself, he said, because he was a traveling salesman, Gretchen said.
Before Lohnie even approved her contract, Gretchen got two blank money orders for $1,500, she said. She was promised an eight percent commission on each money order if she wired the cash to the Dominican Republic through Western Union.
That’s when she got suspicious.
“They were just money orders and they were coming from Florida, so why wasn’t he just cashing them?” Gretchen said. “That’s what made it questionable.”
She did it anyway. After she wired the money, the bank found out the money orders were forgeries, she said.
Printing businesses manufacture the money orders and they look real, Beaudette said.
“This is done by professionals and that’s why this stuff looks so real,” he said.
Beaudette has no leads, he said.
Gretchen has lived in the valley for almost 30 years and she bought a home a couple months ago. It will be tough to make her high mortgage and car payments, she said.
Fortunately, her bank gave her a no interest loan, she said.
Gretchen mostly blames herself, she said.
“It’s definitely a lesson learned hard,” she said.
People should research work-at-home Internet employment more before they commit to it, she said.
“If you’ve got any question whatsoever, any kind of hesitation, go with your gut instinct,” she said.
– For information on mail fraud schemes, how to get off mailing lists or to report mail fraud or junk e-mail: http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/welcome.htm
– For more information in Internet scams:
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.
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