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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Don't let this happen to you. Disasterous...

July 27, 2007 at 12:33 AM

I will make this short, as the matter has been deeply disturbing...yet I felt I needed to share it with you guys because, yes, it could happen to you.
The short version.
I put a listing up on craigslist.com for violin/viola lessons. I had an email sent to me from a woman who wanted her son to take lessons.

Supposedly her son, a 13 yr. old boy, a beginner, was coming to my area for the month of august and she didn't want him to be bored, requesting 1 hr. lessons, three times a week.

As most of you know, that in itself is weird. Three times a week? I told her no. But emails were exchanged and we were about to come to a final schedule, agreement, etc. And then she told me she'd already paid me. But there was a mixup with her secretary and the kid's driver's fee and mine were sent together. So....a certified check for 2thousand dollars would arrive and I was to deduct my sizeable fee from it and then western union it to the driver. Well.

I did this. I waited for the check to clear, or so I thought...my bank said funds were available. SHe was adamant that I send it immediately as he was needing to leave to come here and do this job. I western unioned the 1300 dollars with the 100 dollar fee out of his portion.

TOday I went to buy a printer and my card was declined. I went to the bank. THe check had bounced. I was overdrawn 900 dollars. The check wasn't fraudulent, the account had been closed, so the bank couldn't re-imburse me the money. So I'm in big trouble. Basically with 0 money, owing the bank 900 dollars.

Don't let this happen to you.
It really ruined my day. NOt to mention a lot of other things. Big crisis. All over wanting to teach violin lessons.

Believe me...it sounded very legit. I'm not stupid. But these people were very very smart. And they got me.

Now I can't get my viola that I've fallen in love with...150 year old beautiful, easy to play, fitting, tone-spellbinding viola that was an amazing deal with a trade-in to my old teacher and valued friend. THis opporitunity will not happen again. I was floating and playing it every minute I could this week until I was able to make the final decision and the downpayment. Which is now gone. In the bank trying to reduce that negative balance.

Lots of crying.

Hope this saves someone from the same bastards.

-Jennifer Warren

From Anne Horvath
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 1:05 AM
This is a terrible crime against you, and I am sorry you were cheated so badly. This sounds like a variation on the Nigerian scams that float around the internet...

Write down everything that happened, every phone conversation, every e-mail, get every piece of paper, and CALL THE POLICE. There are laws against this sort of thievery.

Good luck.

From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 1:38 AM
I'm so sorry, Jennifer! That's terrible! And I remember reading in your other posts about how much you wanted to get that special viola. It's so sad that you can't now because some jerk scammed you. :(
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 3:31 AM
Oh, no, Jennifer. You fell for a very common scam. I'm so sorry. I don't know whether there is any legal recourse. I'm especially sorry that this puts you farther away from the viola you love.
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 4:01 AM
Im soo sorry!! I know how much you wanted that viola. But remember that Karma is a *****.
From Albert Justice
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 4:34 AM
I'm sorry about this Jennifer. I have a good friend who had nearly the same experience--not lessons, but same experience otherwise.

I think what troubles me most is that for this scam to have been going around for some time now, nobody has even figured out any protection techniques to help educate the unsuspecting, or if they have they are well hidden.

The point is this: A trend, such as the tainted pet food, is easily recognized after becoming a trend. This I think, is such a trend.

And as important as internet commerce is becoming, one would think that those with interest would be all over the air waves and so forth helping people have safe, good experiences.

Of course the fact that the other person put pressure on to hurry, after being willing to shell out money for '3' lessons a week, should have raised some antennas ; my friend had some similar clues as well.

I'm very sorry this happened to you, and wish everyone using a computer could understand how important your experience really was.

"The Bakers Dozen", just never goes away it seems. '

From Shailee Kennedy
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 3:41 PM
Jennifer, that's so sad. Too late for this, but I wonder what would have happened if you had been onto this person to begin with and refused to return any of the money *after* the person deposited it in your account. Would you have been $2000 richer? Probably not, but it sure would have served the person right.

Try not to think about it too much. It hurts now, but the sting will fade over time.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 3:07 PM
Jennifer, I'm so sorry! Warnings about this scam were making the rounds of the viola list I subscribe to a week or two ago. At the time I didn't think much about it since I'm not a teacher, although I am a Craigslist user.

Now I'm thinking if only I had said something earlier to this group after reading those warnings on the viola list! You're doing a big service by posting this here.

Might you be able to talk to your teacher about your situation with the viola? Even if this particular opportunity can't and won't come again, he might be able to help you find something in the future, keeping an eye out for you.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 4:22 PM
Jennifer, I agree with Karen that you have done us all a great service by coming forward as a victim. I found this web site:

fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/internetschemes.htm

I really hope you have some sort of legal solution.

From Oliver Quilala
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 11:06 PM
If you haven't already done so, or even inclined to do so, go back to Western Union with a police report and ask if that transfer can be traced and if Western Union investigates these kinds of shenanigans. I'm sure they have a process as lots of crooks use Western Union or some other similar business to exact these kinds of repulsive deeds.

I agree with others that you've done a service in reminding us to be vigilant about these things.

We're behind you so don't feel bad.

-Oliver

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on July 28, 2007 at 8:05 AM
Oh Jennifer! This is absolutely awful and there must be some way to get to the bottom of it. I agree with Anne, you should contact the police and report every details of the event. Also contact western union to track down any records they have about the recipient. I don’t know if US has any consumer protection organizations that you can contact to see what other options you have to get some result you can live with.

It’s hard to do this now but you need to get all the help you can and act right away.

From al ku
Posted on July 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM
another angle to approach this is to consider how the scammer's check got to jennifer in the first place. if it is mailed through the US postal service, you may need to convince the postal inspector in the district (first explain the situation to the local postmaster)of being a victim of mail fraud, interstate banking fraud, etc. those inspectors may have more resouces and connections than local police when investigating federal crimes.

the problem i see is that the authorities may not have enough "incentive" to pursue this aggressively if there are no other similar victims from the same scammer since the amt involved is not that large from their perspective. it is going to be time consuming, seemingly effort wasting, but in the end of the day, there may be some closure.

if there is a way to help out jennifer with the fee owed to the bank, i would like to chip in.

From Eugene Chan
Posted on July 28, 2007 at 4:45 PM
Very sorry—and angry—to hear of the whole incident.

I guess the lesson is that any time some arrangement is concocted involving Western Union or wire transfers, alarm bells should be going off like crazy. Western Union is so popular with scammers specifically because they can receive money and walk away pretty much anonymously.

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