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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
In The Snake River Region
Child Care Target of "Over-Paid’ Check Scam
February 01, 2012

Linda Westwood, 45, operates "Linda's Lily Pad" in Boise off Ustick Road. For several years now she has placed ads on craigslist promoting her daycare services.

She said it all started when she put an ad on craigslist, promoting her business services.

"I've had good luck with craigslist," she says. "But, about the second week in January, I received an email from the list, from a woman who said she was looking for daycare, 3 to 4-year-old girl."

Nothing unusual so far, Linda says she receives blind responses all the time to her listing. Westwood is not a BBB accredited business.

For nearly four weeks, she emailed back and forth with this woman, who claimed to be deaf and wanted to communicate by text only. "No phone calls."

This was really an elaborate scam, Linda says. She asked all the right questions, talked about blankets, toys, etc. Naps, hours of pickup, drop-off, payment schedule and costs.

So when she got this email, only a week before her starting date, a red flag went up.

The woman said she’d sent the whole first week amount, but there was an error in the amount. It was too much.

The woman had not filled out any paperwork, had never visited the childcare center, and talked about how much time the little girl would be at the center.

“She wanted to know if I would return a portion of the check, and keep a portion for the inconvenience,” Linda says.

The woman wondered in the email: “Please let me know if I could trust you to do this.”

Linda says she hasn't received a check and didn’t respond to the last email.

Here are tips when dealing over the Internet:

o Know who you are dealing with – independently confirm your buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number.

o Never accept a check for more than your selling price.

o Never agree to wire back funds to a buyer – a legitimate buyer will not pressure you to do so, and you have limited recourse if there is a problem with a wire transfer.

o Resist pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good when the check clears.

o If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank or a bank with a local branch. You can visit that bank branch to determine if the check is legitimate. If the check is stolen, it may not be identifiable immediately by your bank.

o Consider an alternative method of payment, such as an escrow service or online payment service. If the buyer wants to use a service you have not heard of, be sure to check it out to be sure it is reliable – check its Web site, call its customer service hotline, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. If you do not feel comfortable with the service, do not use it.

Tips from the FTC: 

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