Bogalusa local provides scam warning information

Published 10:56 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2012


In the course of running her home-based business selling Avon products, Bogalusa resident Dolores Hopkins recently encountered what she found to be a scam, and she wants to help others avoid the same type of fraud.

On Nov. 25, Hopkins received an email notification that a person identified as “Mickey Jones” wanted to order products from her. After contacting him, she received a list of items on Nov. 28 that he said he wanted to purchase to give as gifts for a fashion show to be held in her area.

Hopkins said she placed the order that night and sent an email to Jones, letting him know his total would be $285.46 and that he should send a postal money order as payment. In another email, Jones said he wanted the items to be wrapped. Hopkins said she thought the order was legitimate.

When Hopkins checked her email about five days later, she saw that the money order was due for delivery on Dec. 11. The accompanying email, however, made her suspicious.

“He said when I receive the money order, he wanted me to deposit the money order the day I received it and cash it and take the rest of the money over what they paid me and put it in a MoneyGram and send it to their address,” she said.

The email instructed Hopkins to send the funds to Dubai, United Arab Emirate.

“I emailed them back and asked him to tell me what time was he coming and what date was he coming for the fashion show and, when he emailed me back, he said he’d get back with me on that,” she said. “But he never did tell me what date he was coming.”

When Hopkins received the money order, she asked a Postal Service employee to have a look at it.

“He said it didn’t look authentic at all, but it was pretty good for a fraud,” she said.

Hopkins decided to get a second opinion by bringing the money order to Walmart and to another location that offers MoneyGram services.

“They, too, said that it was a fraud,” she said. “It was not legitimate because the little pink circle on the front did not change colors. That’s when I decided to take it back to the Post Office and let them turn it over to their special team.”

Hopkins said she was targeted this spring by a telephone-based scammer and that almost a month passed before he stopped calling her.

Other home-based business owners need to be on the lookout for scams, Hopkins said.

“If you have a home-based business, if you have information about your business out online, do not order products for anyone unless they send the money upfront, and wait until it clears — if you’re going to deposit it in your account — before you send anything,” she said.

When dealing with a money order or check, wait at least seven to 10 days for it to clear before sending out any items, Hopkins said.

“But the best thing to do is have it checked out, have the money order or check checked out to see if it’s legitimate with the bank or a company that sent it,” she said. “Do not send money in advance for anything, because it’s just a scam.”

Hopkins also warns against providing one’s credit card number over the phone with the promise that something will be sent for free.

“Hang up the phone or don’t answer the email,” she said. “Just let it go. Money is too tight nowadays to try to give it to crooks.”