Caught on tape: cheque scammers target North Vancouver woman

Maryse was issued this cheque with instructions to cash it and send some of the money to a prospective employer. Jeremy Lye/CKNW

A woman who applied for a job looking after a senior with dementia has turned the tables on the cheque fraud artist who tried to take her hard-earned money.

Maryse, who asked CKNW News not to use her last name because she fears for her safety, came to us after she got a bad feeling when she applied for a job…..

LISTEN:  Maryse tells her story to CKNW reporter Jeremy Lye

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Fortunately for Maryse, instincts honed through 30 years of experience as a social worker tipped her off that something was wrong. Maryse got a bad feeling soon after she replied to a job posting purportedly from an Australian family, a couple named “Jimmy” and “Tonya” who wanted someone to look after their mother-in-law in Vancouver who suffers from dementia.

The ad was placed in newspaper classifieds in several markets across Canada. Maryse said she responded to the newspaper ad by email, offering details including her address.

At that point, the scam kicked in. She was told to cash a certified cheque for $3,250, most of which would cover her wages. The remainder was to be held for provisions for when the “family” arrived in Vancouver.

Red flags

But Maryse said the red flags started waving after she confirmed she had received the cheque. The number of messages from Jimmy began to increase, repeatedly asking whether she’d received the money.

LISTEN:  Jimmy directs Maryse to deliver the money

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Her name was misspelled on the cheque, and the bank’s address was printed as “Calgaty, Alberta.” Then the demands for a receipt for the deposit began, each one more aggressive than the last. Fortunately Maryse, unlike thousands of others, didn’t fall for it.

This note came with the cheque Maryse was asked to cash. In the days after she received the cheque, she began to get more frequent and aggressive messages from the alleged scammers. Jeremy Lye/CKNW

How it works

The scam usually involves people being targeted from a foreign country, one where getting money out is supposedly difficult to do. The cheque is deposited, and within five days the money is in your hands. The victim takes their cut and wires the rest to an address they’ve been given.

But it’s not until weeks later that the bank finds the cheque is no good. By then, the wired money is long gone, and the scammers have long since stopped texting or answering emails. The victim is left responsible to the bank for the full amount of the bad cheque.

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In Maryse’s case there was a new twist. She was asked to drop the money off at a storefront.

LISTEN:  Jimmy gets upset with Maryse

Whether that store actually existed remains unknown, as the instructions never reached that point, but the promise of a physical address could have been a ploy to make the scammers’ pitch more plausible.

LISTEN:  CKNW reporter Jeremy Lye confronts the scammer

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Maryse says knowing the people she’s been communicating with have her address makes her uncomfortable in her own home. Jeremy Lye/CKNW

‘I’m really frightened’

It wasn’t enough to fool Maryse, but she said “Jimmy” and his cohorts do have her address.

“I’m really frightened,” she said.

Meanwhile, Maryse said the police have told her there’s nothing they can do.

‘These people are probably in India,'” she said police told her.

But Maryse said they did have a Canadian bank account. She said police told her if something did happen, she could always call 911.

“I couldn’t believe that they didn’t want to investigate it, that the bank didn’t care, that the bank was being used fraudulently to scam people.”

So far, there has  been no comment from North Vancouver RCMP. Maryse said while she didn’t lose any money, the experience with the scammers has left its mark.

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“I can’t say that I’m not disappointed that it’s not true,” she said.

Meanwhile the last message so far from the scammers is again demanding Maryse send them a receipt, and to do it quickly or to not bother with the offer — with Jimmy complaining he’s running out of credits for his phone calls.

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