Don’t get nailed by the Nanny Scam!

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My wife Jeanne recently embarked on a new career – she is a nanny for a young couple with a newborn baby girl. She loves babies anyway, so spending her days taking care of one is pretty much her dream job. And of course the baby’s parents love ¬†Jeanne because she has tons of experience with kids (successfully raising our own two, plus she taught First Grade for 17 years).

Nanny Scam

When my wife was searching for a family in need of a nanny, one of the services she used was Care.com. That’s an online service that matches up families and nannies. Unfortunately, it’s also a site that is used by scammers to take advantage and steal from kind-hearted people. One of the ways they do that is through the Nanny Scam.

How the Nanny Scam works

There are a few variations on this scam, but the basics are usually similar. When a nanny is looking for a family, she’ll usually post a profile on Care.com that lists previous experience and availability, and perhaps a photo. The scammer finds that profile as a potential target and contacts her to offer the “job” (which doesn’t exist of course). At some point in the beginning, the scammer sends a message that is something like this one:

nanny scam letter

 

Of course, the made-up story really pulls on the heartstrings of anyone that reads it and believes it. A single mother who lost her husband and baby in a tragic auto accident, and now she’s trying to make it with her small son who barely survived but needs a wheelchair. And conveniently, the “mother” can only communicate through text or email so actually speaking with her is not an option.

This is the photo that is often sent along with the heartbreaking message:

nanny scam photo

 

As you can see, every aspect of this back story is designed to create emotion and sympathy. And it works. Now that the bait is taken, it’s time for the scammer to set the hook. The next message explains that the son – “Joe” – needs some type of new medical equipment such as a leg brace or a wheelchair. So the mother asks if she can send the prospective nanny a check to cover the purchase of the wheelchair PLUS a few hundred dollars to compensate for the nanny’s time. The nanny just needs to deposit the check and then send the money for the wheelchair on to the medical device supplier via Western Union (or some other “same as cash” service).

So the poor gullible nanny deposits the check. She might even wait for the bank to confirm that the funds are clear, just to be safe. Then she gets cash from the bank, goes to Western Union and sends the money to the “medical device supplier” for the wheelchair.

Once that money has been sent, the nanny never hears from the mother again. She DOES however hear from the bank – telling her that the check was no good and that she needs to pay back that money. Usually the check turns out to be stolen from a company or even from an individual (often taken from the back of the checkbook so it doesn’t get noticed right away). Even though the bank has said the funds are “clear” it often can take a few weeks for them to be notified that the check was no good, which is when they tell the victim that the money needs to be returned. And if she¬†can’t pay back the money? She could very well be headed to jail for grand theft.

It’s bad enough when a scam victim gets stung because they thought they stumbled across a once-in-a-lifetime chance to snag a bunch of money. But in this case, the person is victimized because of having a good heart and wanting to help someone. It’s often devastating to finally realize that the very person she was trying to help is the one that stole thousands of dollars from her.

Here’s a news story about a young lady who was victimized by the Nanny Scam. Hopefully raising awareness will prevent some kind-hearted people from losing their their money to these scumbags.

 

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