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Posted by on Jul 28, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Rants and Raves | 2 comments

The Check-Deposit Scam

 

 

I’m holding a check in my hand for $6,850.12.

Unfortunately, it’s not even worth 12 cents.

This makes me the latest unsuspecting target of a popular scam that’s been going on for many years called the “Fake Check Deposit.”

Here’s what happened to me and typically how the scam works.

A few weeks ago, I scanned Craig’s List for odd jobs and temp opportunities to make some extra income.  Craig’s List and similar platforms allow people to post long- and short-term gigs doing all kinds of different tasks — from driving a car, to bricklaying, to joining a band, to webcam modeling.  Since my webcam modeling career is on a downswing right now, I answered an ad for a temporary chauffeur.

I sent a short e-mail listing my qualifications and also conveyed my 24/7 ability for the position.

The next day, I received a response from “Dr. Lee.”

Dr. Lee explained that he/she lived in Toronto.  He would be visiting Las Vegas to attend an upcoming conference.  Dr. Lee needed a private driver for one month.  He needed transportation between his hotel and the conference and also wanted to do some sightseeing.  His e-mail was well-written and certainly appeared that it could have come from a doctor.  Although still somewhat skeptical, I believed this job opportunity could be real.

I accepted the position which paid $800 per week, for four weeks, plus a small bonus awarded at the end of the assignment.  The pay seemed reasonable for the work and hours involved.

Next, in his follow-up e-mail, Dr. Lee explained he would need to rent a car which had to be a luxury vehicle.  He noted that he’d leased a Mercedes GLE in the past, which was an SUV priced at $53,000.  This month-long lease would be every expensive.

Dr. Lee informed me that he’d send me certified check by Federal Express.  I’d receive it the next day.  He told me to take the check, deposit it into my personal bank account, and then a few days later when funds were available to make the lease arrangements.  Dr. Lee would later provide the name of the leasing company.

This temp job started to smell fishy.

But I decided to play along.

The next day, a Federal Express envelope arrived at my doorstep.  The only item inside was a single slip of paper.  It was a check for $6,850.12 made payable to “Nolan Dalla.”

The check image can be seen in the image above.  Note that I’ve blacked out personal information and the bank account numbers.

The checked looked and felt very real.  It had a water seal embossed in the paper.  It was signed by someone, but it wasn’t Dr. Lee.  Perhaps this was Dr. Lee’s personal assistant.

I did some quick investigating.  I performed a bank account search, which can be done online within just a few seconds.  To my surprise, the bank ID number wasn’t made up.  It actually matched the name of the bank, listed as “City Bank N.A.”  The account number also appeared legitimate.  But the check also had some glaring peculiarities.

My check for almost seven-grand was drawn from a business account listed as “National Sorghum Producers.”  That company is based on a remote highway in Lubbock, Texas.  I don’t want to seem cynical, but this seemed like an odd financial arrangement that a small company in West Texas would be paying for a car and driver for a Canadian doctor soon to be visiting Las Vegas.

Here’s an image of the company from MapQuest, when I typed in “National Sorghum Producers” located at 4201 North Interstate 27; Lubbock, TX; 79403:

 

 

Well, shit.

My heart sank.  Gee, I guess I wasn’t going to be chauffering a doctor around Las Vegas, getting paid to drive a new Mercedes.

I’d been instructed to deposit this check immediately.  Time was critical since Dr. Lee was coming into town next week.  Within just a few days, my funds would be available.  I was told to keep $800 for my first week’s pay and then send the remainder to rent the car in advance.  I’d be given the details of where to send the money once I confirmed receipt of the check.

This thing wasn’t just fishy.  It was now as smelly as week-old sardines.

Dr. Lee emailed me that same day.  “Did you receive my Federal Express envelope with the check?” he asked.

I decided to play along and get clever.

“No, it didn’t arrive,” I replied.  “Maybe you got my address wrong.”

After a few back-and-forth e-mails, Dr. Lee informed me that he’d Federal Express another check which would arrive the next business day.

“Great!” I replied.  “I can’t wait to start driving for you!”

The following day, another Federal Express envelope arrived at my front door.  Inside was an identical check in the same amount.  Each “Priority Overnight” delivery cost the sender $17.50.  So, Dr. Lee was now on the hook for $35.00 in express delivery charges.  He was a doctor, right?  So, he could afford it.

“Did you get the check this time,” Dr. Lee wrote.

I waited a full day, and then responded as follows:

“Gee, I don’t know what’s the problem.  I’ve been waiting for the Federal Express envelope, but neither one arrived yet.  Can you check with National Sorghum Producers and see if they sent it out yet?”

Bada-boom!

I never heard from “Dr. Lee” again.

The scam was reported to authorities.  I also contacted my bank, which confirmed these scams do often happen.  The problem, I was told, is that some people really believe these checks are real and mistakenly think they have no liability.  The truth is — if a check is deposited and gets returned, the account holder is fully responsible for the funds.  Some banks have been known to close the accounts of people who have fallen prey to this scam, even if from naivete.  Older people, students with little financial experience, and poor people, often desperate for any chance to earn income are particularly susceptible to this scam.

Indeed, I learned the scam does sometimes succeed.  How and why?  Laws require that funds be released to customers and made available in a timely manner, sometimes in as little as a few days.  I could have done precisely as instructed — deposited the check, kept $800 as my payment, and then transferred $6,o00 to the “rental car agency,” who was actually the scammer eagerly awaiting the fruits of his heist.  By the time the check was found to be fraudulent and bounced, which might take weeks, the scammer would be long gone with my money.  I’d be 100 percent responsible for making up the lost $6,000.  Who knows — maybe the scammer really does drive a brand new Mercedes, paid for by unsuspecting victims of the fake-check swindle.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

We should all learn ways to protect ourselves.  One of the best ways to dissuade scammers is to play along and get them to invest time and money digging down an empty hole.  So, my advice is to make things as costly as possible for them.  Milk them dry, even if it’s just for the cost of a Fed Ex express delivery.  Make them pay.  Then, report the incident to proper authorities.

Now, it’s back to Craig’s List again.  Let’s see what other exciting opportunities I can find and trouble I can get into.

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Posted by on Jul 22, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

What Song Had the Greatest Historical Impact on the World?

 

 

Here’s the latest edition of my regular series — An Unconventional Convention:

 

AN UNCONVENTIONAL CONVENTION — LVII

What song has had the *greatest historical impact* on the world?

Music can be powerful. It can alter our emotions. It can change how we think. It can motivate us to do good things. It can motivate us to do bad things. It can ignite even revolutions.

Songwriting dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. All cultures produce music of some kind. Millions of songs have been written over the centuries — recorded and performed in every country on earth.

Your challenge today is to pick the ONE SONG that’s had the most profound impact — which can be either good or bad. What song has gone so far as to alter the course of human history? Certainly, some songs have changed how people think and what they believe. Moreover, some songs echo deeper instincts that don’t always produce a positive outcome. Some songs can be bad and motivate people to harmful things.

Keep in mind this is not a question about the “best song” or “most popular song.” This is only about songs that have *made a difference” in some way.

BONUS QUESTION: What specific impacts did your song choice have on people? Try to be as specific as possible.

This is the FIFTY-SEVENTH edition of A.U.C. Here’s another challenging question that will require some contemplation. Honestly, I have *no idea* what my answer will be. I need more time to think about it.

So, what’s your pick?

To participate, please join the discussion on Facebook by clicking HERE:

 

 

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Posted by on Jul 15, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

What Movie Have You Seen the Most Times?

 

 

AN UNCONVENTIONAL CONVENTION — LIV

What movie have you seen the most times?

To read and/or participate, click onto the image DOWN BELOW which links directly to the Facebook discussion.

My summation of the comments, my answer, as well as the consensus opinion are listed below:

Think back to all the movies you’ve watched more than once — at the theatre, on television, and/or on demand. I presume that most of you have watched the movies you enjoy *multiple* times. I also presume the next time you’re channel surfing and accidentally stumble across your movie, you’ll stop and watch it. I do this frequently.

Name your movie, and then try your best to estimate the number of times you have seen it (at least, in part).

I have at least a dozen candidates. It’s tough to pick just one. film from so many So, I may have to think about my answer.

If you have to think about this question, then it’s likely the first answer that popped into your head is correct. That will be my pick, which I’ll post later in the thread.

Also of note — older people will have watched their movies many more times than younger people, for obvious reasons. However, one big factor is that those of us who are 45+ grew up with fewer television channels and less options. So, we were limited as to what we could watch. Accordingly, repetition was our only option.

Finally, if you want to explain WHY we do this, I’d be curious to read some answers. For instance, I would NEVER go back and watch an old sporting event I’ve seen previously. So, why do so many of us watch the same movie over and over again? It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Everyone should have an answer. I’m eager to see which is the most popular (consensus) choice.

This is the FIFTY-FOURTH edition of A.U.C. Thanks for everyone for contributing to the discussion. Lot’s more topics to come.

CLICK HERE:

More to come……

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Posted by on Jul 12, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 2 comments

What is the famous quote or saying that provides comfort which you believe — if shared — might also help others? [An Unconventional Convention]

 

 

Welcome to the latest edition of my Facebook discussion series, “An Unconventional Convention.”

To read more and/or participate hopefully, click onto the image below which links directly to the Facebook page.

My summation of the comments, my answer, as well as the consensus opinion are also listed below:

 

My Answer:  

All things must pass.

Consensus Opinion (most popular answer):  

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Other Popular Responses (in no particular order): 

When you can be anything you want in the world — be kind.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and its all small stuff.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Love is the condition where someone else’s happiness is essential to your own.

 

To join my future discussions on history, music, movies, books, and living life to the fullest, please follow by clicking — HERE.

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Posted by on Jul 11, 2019 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

Who is the Most Famous Person in the World? [An Unconventional Convention]

 

 

Writer’s Note: Earlier this year, I launched a new forum for discussion on Facebook.  I called this exchange of ideas — “An Unconventional Convention.”

My platform for sharing thoughts in a civil and constructive manner was in direct response to our deep political and cultural divide, which often blurs reality and distorts how we see others.  So, every couple of days, I came up with an interesting topic for broad discussion.  It’s both wonderful and selfish — because I get to satisfy many of my own curiosities and then call upon lots of smart people for opinions. 

I’ve learned many new things from the feedback posted to Facebook in the comments section.  I expect others have learned quite a bit, as well.  Indeed, An Unconventional Convention is an unbridled success.

Accordingly, I’m re-posting many of the most popular topics, some which attracted hundreds of comments, along with a summation of what we learned.  Also, please follow me on Facebook to engage in future in discussions.   

 

To read and/or participate, click onto the image below which links directly to the Facebook discussion.

My summation of the comments, my answer, as well as the consensus opinion are also listed below:

QUESTION:  WHO IS THE MOST FAMOUS (LIVING) PERSON IN THE WORLD?

Who is the most famous (living) person in the world at this moment?  Note that “famous” could be measured in two different ways:
— the person is identified by name if a photograph was shown.
— if the person’s name were written or spoken, the respondent would be able to identify the subject.

It’s possible your answers could differ depending on which measure is used (facial recognition versus name recognition).

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO READ THE FULL QUESTION AND SEE ALL COMMENTS

My Answer:  Barack Obama

Consensus Opinion:  No consensus opinion (the discussion was divided)

Most Popular Responses (in no particular order):  Queen Elizabeth II, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Pope Francis, Jackie Chan, Dev Patel, Dali Llama, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Christiano Ronaldo, Michael Jordan

 

To join my future discussions on history, music, movies, books, and living life to the fullest, please follow by clicking — HERE.

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