postal scams

Spurious Awards Scam

The “Spurious Award Scam” is a vanity-targetted scam, similar to the “Who’s Who” scam where you are to be honored by inclusion in an index of the Brightest and Best, but in the small print is a small charge for inclusion.

This scam ionvolves businesses being ‘awarded’ some supposed honor, involving a certificate, and what the financial industry call a tombstone – a plastic block to leave at reception to show you won it.

The certificate is a worthless peice of paper, knocked up on a printer for about 0.0001c and the trophy, if it arrives at all is worth less than the packaging it came in.

A Scam TipOff post led me here –

The United States Trade & Commerce Institute (USTCI) scams companies into purchasing expensive trophies and related packages for awards they have supposedly earned, though the selection appears to be completely random and is often incorrect. Some companies receive the notices for excellence in a year that they were not even in business, or for doing types of work that are not applicable, or for being based in a country in which they do not even do business. This organization has been scamming small businesses for several years, and has gone by numerous DBAs, as bad press has forced them to shut down and rename. The USTCI, for example, recently changed its name from the Small Business Institute for Excellence in Commerce after people began to complain.

and this:

…all they wanted to do was charge me $100 for a meaningless certificate or three times that amount for a tacky acryllic award trophy.

See more Scam TipOffs at:

This long-running scam uses a variety of domain names, often variations of the letters USTCI (,, etc), they change often enough to stay off the search engines. USTCI.ORG was, at time of writing, hosted by in the US but has since moved to being hosted by a Chinese ISP.

From now on, I’m going to name the ISP’s of spammer/scammers in the hope that the negative publicity may cause them to more closely examine the ‘operations’ that the websites they host are involved in.

‘Stop Art Scams’ blog

A California artist, Katie Moe, who describes herself as an ‘Artist and Anti-Scam Samurai’ has a blog devoted to informing fellow artists and other people about a common emailtype scam, the ‘Art Scam’.

A spam email will ask to buy something from your website or for you to source and provide products (usually high value items or a large number of items that add up to a high value. Payment is a (stolen) credit card or a (counterfeit) check and in most cases, there is a requirement to ‘forward’ an overpayment to a third party, usually a shipping or customs agent. The overpayment is always demanded by Western Union and is always overseas. Often this is the payload. Everything else is just window dressing. If you are stupid enough to send the products you will probably lose them.

The joy at getting a lucrative, large order can blind people to the sometimes obvious red flags. This is when the scammers win big!

Read her blog, she specializes in this type of scam and has seen them all!

Secret Shopper Scam Described

The Consumerist“, a website that highlights the persistent, shameless gaffes of modern consumerism – and the latest scams, rip-offs, hot deals and freebies, encourages their readers to tell them about their everyday experiences with absurdities of consumer culture – and suggest ways for them to fight back.

They explain in detail how the ‘Secret Shopper’ scam works and the comments are interesting too, especially the one from a persone who actually did the job for real.

There are legit Mystery Shopper jobs. A friend did it for years.

A Legit company, has a physical office,
Pays Unemployment insurance.
Offers Insurance and maybe a 401k
Supplies you with a company credit card to offset employee purchases required to do the job.
Handles corporate accounts for big names such as Pepsico, or Marriott.
Reimburses all employee costs and pays mileage.
You DO NOT get to keep your purchases required to do your job unless its staying in a hotel you are “shopping”
Food is tested for temp, drinks for proper mixture.
You will be observing cleanliness and going to the bathrooms.
You may eat your meal but your probably shopping 20 places that day so most of it must be disposed of, it cannot be given away.
You WILL be traveling the country, sometimes 1000 miles a day in all types of weather.
You WILL be away from home 2-3 weeks a month.
You WILL NOT be payed in advance.
You will get a salary on top of compensation for your purchases.
You WILL spend many a night sleeping in your car.

Anything that does not meet these criteria is most likely a SCAM.

So, it’s not as exciting or lucrative as it sounds! 🙁

Insurance Scam Job with tortured bizspeak free!

Here’s a cute one – of course it’s our old friend the ‘transaction processing clerk’ scam, gussied up a little to be an insurance invoicer/reimburser. What caught my eye was the amusing biz speak which looks like it’s been through the Dialectizer, a website that has been around for years, that will translate any text into your choice of ‘Swedish Chef’,  ‘Elmer Fudd’, ‘Hillbilly’ and many more.. [ad]

There used to be programs around that juggled a bunch of random ‘buzz words’ to generate idiotic phrases that just might have been used already in your last marketing tigerteam ‘feel the force’ bi-annual synergy meeting. I miss those, innocent days!

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here’s another spam scam :

Vance Garland []
Julie Mathews. HR department. ID: 461562292291351385756 []

Dear Job Seeker,

Due to converge of our mutual interests within the boundaries of the employment process, we’d like to manifest provision of the newly opened entry, available for your immediate contemplation.

An expansion process, has inevitably triggered the underscored insurance company to form complementary positions within the market of operation. If you are ever in need of a nw insurance plan, then consider going to to pick out which plan is the best for your needs.

We’re providing a feasible opportunity to put your legal background to use in the insurance/accounting sphere. Undoubtedly, our ultimate aim is to bring the confort work environment, stimulating a reciprocal leap towards beneficial and justifying operating conditions.

Informational table is presented below, to briefly outline the opening.

* Benefits and privileges:

-Feasible career advancement opportunities.
-Extensive tutelage (probation period) for the first two months.
-Fixed payout, resulting in 2000 USD monthly.
-Outstanding reimbursement plan.

* Requirements:

– Accuracy and leadership in the assigned operations
– Interpersonal and communication skills.
– Swift decision-making.
– Honesty and law obedience.
– Proficient use of Microsoft Office.

* Primary responsibilities:

– Preparing invoices, compiling itemized charges and submitting bills concerning insurance reimbursement enquiries.
– Commencing insurance operations (reimbursement cases).
– Consolidating viable documentation, records and paperwork.
– This is not insurance sales position and you don’t need to sell insurance, this is Money Manager vacancy.

If you want to apply please send all your questions and contact information ONLY to e-mail: We’re looking forward to our further communication.

Julie Mathews. HR department.
ID:  461562292291351385756

Round-up of Internet Scams in the News


Door-to-door scam in Watertown
News 10 Now – Syracuse,NY,USA
WATERTOWN, NY — Police in Watertown are warning homeowners of a possible scam involving a person claiming to be from the Toys for Tots program.
At about 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, police say a white male came to a door on Portage Street asking for a cash donation for Toys for Tots. His request was denied and he left.

GEORGETOWN: Man charged in package scam

Delmarva Daily Times – MD,USA
The Delaware State Police charged a 39-year-old Milford resident for theft by false pretense after he reportedly intentionally stole packages he was supposed to deliver for victims. The investigation began Nov. 16 after two victims came forward to police and reported Luis D. Bravo, 39 of Milford Harrington Hwy, Milford, had defrauded them.

Craigslist scam cheating Denver residents
United Press International – USA
3 (UPI) —
Some Denver homeowners say they and unsuspecting renters have been victimized by a Craigslist scam apparently based out of Nigeria.Homeowner John Kurowski said the Web site had featured an advertisement that placed a property he owned up for rent at a cheap price without his consent, KCNC-TV, Denver, reported Wednesday.

New Scam: Pay up, or Die!
Tampa Bay’s 10 – St. Petersburg,FL,USA
Brooksville, Florida —
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office wants to warn people about a new email scam trying to scare people out of their money. You can read the entire email below.The subject line of the email reads: “I felt very sorry and bad for you” from “
Bogus IRS e-mail aims to steal identities

Rocky Mount Telegram – Rocky Mount,NC,USA
Local residents risk falling prey to identity theft if they respond to a recent e-mail in which someone bogusly claims to be the Internal Revenue Service in need of personal information. The IRS had nothing to do with the latest letters that were sent out via e-mail to Rocky Mount residents, a spokesman said. “It is a phishing scam. The IRS doesn’t send out unsolicited e-mails.” Hanson said people who respond to the e-mails risk identity theft or worse.

Salina Man Ripped-Off in Internet Scam
KSAL – Salina,KS,USA
A Salina man is bilked out of nearly $18500 in an internet scam. Police say that back in August a 39-year-old Salina man met a woman on the
AG: Lakewood charity a scam
Denver Post – Denver,CO,USA
Authorities said the scam has been going on since 2007. According to court documents, Smith and Stokes told donors that Family Relief Fund collects money.
Autocall Scam Rings local Phones Well Into The Night
Rome News Wire – rome,ga,USA
hang up and do not give you bank account number. It is not yet clear where the calls are originating from or if anyone local has fallen prey to the scam.
New Scam Out Of Africa Rents Homes On Craigslist – Denver,CO,USA
One look at the price in the ad and it was clear this was a scam. The ad listed the price as $1300 a month for a five bedroom, incredibly charming home.
Alleged Fresno Scam Rents Out Foreclosed Homes
KMPH Fox 26 – Fresno,CA,USA
Kinard says she is just one of about 20 families in Fresno who were fooled by the scam. “One of the best pieces of advice is always do your homework,” said
Phone scam targeting North Iowa again
Mason City Globe Gazette – Mason City,IA,USA
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Consumer agency warns about holiday scam
WACH – Columbia,SC,USA
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs warns consumers about a class-action lawsuit scam. The scam involves an unknown person who calls consumers
Sheriff’s Department warns of bond scam
Grand Haven Tribune – Grand Haven,MI,USA
AP Breaking News Video The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents of a phone scam asking for bond money. According to Lt. Lee Hoeksema,
San Francisco Chronicle

A restaurant reservation scam
San Francisco Chronicle – CA, USA
Part of the answer came last week from an East Bay restaurateur who emailed me about a recent scam. During a two-month period the restaurant owner received

Ohioans are warned of insurance scam
Chillicothe Gazette – Chillicothe,OH,USA
COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Insurance is warning people about a recent phone scam in which the caller claims to be from the person’s auto insurance
United Kingdom

Lapland ‘scam‘ costs woman £3000
BBC News – UK
A woman fears she has lost £3000 after buying more than 100 tickets to a Lapland-style theme park described as a “scam” by scores of angry visitors.

Updated 12/2: Phony grandson sets up ‘grandma’ in money scam
Pioneer Press Online – Glenview,IL,USA
By JENNIFER JOHNSON A Park Ridge woman lost $3600 last week after she wired money to a person she believed was her grandson.
See all stories on this topic
Aimetis Symphony Thwarts Card Skimming Scam at One of the Nordic’s
MarketWatch – USA
that its surveillance platform, Aimetis Symphony(TM) played an instrumental role in thwarting a card skimming scam at ICA Maxi Superstores in Sweden.

LOCAL NEWS: House resumes hearing on fertilizer scam
Philippine Star – Manila,Philippines
By Alexa Villano Updated December 02, 2008 02:58 PM The House Committee on Agriculture resumed its hearing today on the controversial fertilizer scam with

Fake Checks – ‘Backgrounder’


American consumers are being defrauded by overseas scam artists. The latest complaints relate to counterfeit checks including cashier’s checks, checks that look like they’re drawn on business accounts, money orders, traveler’s checks and gift cheques.

A common theme exists in all of the scams: Just because a deposited check shows up as “funds available” in your account register, it doesn’t mean the check is good or has cleared. Federal law gives consumers the right to have quick access to the funds from deposited checks (usually within 1 to 5 days). However, it can take weeks for counterfeits to be discovered. The consumer is then responsible for ALL fees associated with the fake check. Also, no one who wants to GIVE you money should ask you TO SEND THEM money. For more information, visit

Soem fun videos showing how it works can be seen here:

Connecticut Fake Checks (Forwarding Excess) Scam

SOUTH WINDSOR, Connecticut police today warned of a fraudulent checks scam in which residents have been receiving bogus checks from FedEx or U.P.S. The checks are made out to the resident, and a form letter instructs the recipient to contact the sender via e-mail for further instructions.

The scam works by having the unsuspecting recipient deposit the check in their checking account, and then transfer some or all of the money to the sender, police said. Banks later learn that the checks are fake. The victim loses the money they have transferred to the sender because the money that is wired can not be retrieved, police said.

Just another twist in the advance fee scam, using the postal mail, before reverting to email removes one level of obvious inauthenticity.