Hey all. Long time no talk. I’ve been stupid busy, working, and trying to get even more jobs. I joined Care.com, which is 99% awesome. If you don’t know, it’s an online community for babysitters, and people in need of babysitters. You can post ads if you need someone, or you can post a profile if you’re looking for a job. It’s nice. Very good idea. EXCEPT. I was recently scammed, by someone using the website.
THIS IS IN NO WAY TALKING POORLY ABOUT CARE.COM. I love the site, and I have no problems with it. There are just terrible people in the world. So I’m here to tell you what happened to me, and to hopefully help prevent it from happening to you.
So this woman named “Kathleen Richard” sent me an email, saying she was coming to Rochester for 2 months for a business trip, and needed someone to watch her 3 year old son during the week. At about $10 an hour, I was going to be making $1800 for the two months. I mean, sounds pretty sweet right? WRONG. That saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.” is so ridiculously true. At least about this. (I always say my boyfriend’s too good to be true, but he is in fact true… And every now and then he shows me that, by getting grumpy when I hog the blankets at night.)
Now, I am a naturally trusting person. Give her the benefit of the doubt, right? My boyfriend on the other hand, is not. First day I was talking to this woman, he was searching for babysitting scams. And we found a few. More than a few. Many detailed accounts of fraud, that related almost directly back to what was happening to me. BUT STILL! I didn’t want to totally screw this lady over if she really needed a babysitter. So I was careful, but I kept talking to her.
Today though (a few weeks after it all started), I went to the bank, reported a fake check, and got myself out of this terrible situation. Turns out there was an alert on her (if it’s even a woman) account and that there had been several fake checks issued from it. Soooo that’s cute. And since I’m pretty much Sherlock Holmes over here, I’m going to share the clues I used to figure out that Kathleen is not a real person.
- She said she was coming up for a business trip. Except, she spelled business ‘bizness’. Uhhhh? Look, I know sometimes spelling can be tricky. But spelling does count. RED FLAG.
- She texted me from a few different numbers. The first time she contacted me on my phone, I saved her contact. I mean, if I was going to be babysitting for her, I’d need it. But then I got another text from her, from a completely different number. Different area code and everything. Not normal.
- She sent me pictures of her and her son. And at first, that gave me hope that they were real. Google has this nifty tool though, that allowed you to reverse image search pictures. So my suspicious boyfriend and I went for it. And found the same picture she sent me on a site about a dating site scam. Well, at least it’s not just innocent babysitters like me.
- She told me she was going to pay $500 of the $1800 up front. She’s never met me, I hadn’t done anything yet, and $500 is A LOT of money. At least for a 21 year old college student. When I went to the bank, the guy there told me that no one does that. And I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t such an outstanding citizen, I could’ve just taken that and ran. Well, hypothetically. If the check was real.
- She also told me, in addition to the $500, she was going to send extra money for me to forward to a “store manager” to get toys and supplies for her son while he was here. Didn’t say a name, a store, a location, anything. Of course, the store manager, right! Sounds definitely real and totally not fake!
- About that store manager thing. Why would she send me the money? Why couldn’t she just send another check to them? Or get it online? Or I don’t know, do anything a normal person would do? Well, here’s their trick. They sent me a check for $2750. I was supposed to transfer $1500 of that to a “store manager” in Ohio. So say I deposited the check, transferred the money, and then the check bounced… I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t have $1500 to be throwing around. I woulda been SOL.
- She said she was coming from Arkansas. Except the check was from Minnesota. And the envelope (which didn’t have a return address) was postmarked in Cleveland. MAKE UP YOUR MIND. That is so sketchy! Bitch, I know you don’t live in all those places. Keep your story straight.
- In addition to her VERY poor English (I mean very poor. I was having a hard time understanding her sentences), which was a sure fire sign, she also spelled her name incorrectly on the check. Her name was Kathleen Richard, and she wrote Kathleen Rich. Like, that’s not even lack of knowing the language. That’s just being a total idiot.
- She never wanted to meet me. I can’t forget to leave that out of this list. If someone was going to spend 5 hours a day, every week, for two months, with your kid, you’d want to kind of know them, right? Well, not Kathleen! I could be a rapist for all she knows. Like, Skype? A phone call? Anything?
- The “store manager” she wanted me to send $1500 to was located in Ohio. If you live in Arkansas, bank in Minnesota, and you’re coming to upstate New York, why the hell do you need to go to a store in Ohio? YOU DON’T. I made sure to include this info in my email to the Fraud center at Chase… Postmarked in Ohio, and you want me to send money back there, you’re not covering your tracks very well. I can put two and two together, and my common sense tells me you’re staying in Ohio. Less than 6 hours from me, might I add… If I was the crazy type, I could hunt you down myself. Ha! But I won’t. I trust the authorities on this one. Also, I don’t think my car could make a trip that long. Heh. Just kidding! I would never do that. Really.
So all these sketch ball signs. Honestly, by the time that check arrived at my house, I wanted to be done and get this over with. The day after I got it, I took it to Chase (not my personal bank, but it was the bank the check was issued from, so I figured they’d be able to help). The man that helped me was super understanding, agreed with every point I made, and didn’t make me feel like a gullible little girl for almost falling for it. So thank you, kind banker.
I’m so glad I caught on. Everyone I told about the situation agreed with me on all accounts, so if you ever think something is off, tell someone! Honestly, if I had fallen for this, I would be well, fucked. To put it frankly. Sites like Craigslist, Care.com and even dating sites can be wonderful! Just be careful. If you feel like something is weird, it probably is. Take it from me, I know. And after all the bullshit she put me through, I would never wish it on someone else. I’m trying to fight crime here! I’m like… the Spiderman of babysitters. Oh yeah. Moral of the story, never trust anyone named Kathleen. JUST KIDDING. The real moral of the story is to be careful as all get out. Even though my scammer was a complete idiot and could barely keep her story straight, from what I’ve read, a few can be pretty convincing. So just be safe about it. The internet is marvelous, but it opens a whole new door to crazy.
PS. This woman has been blowing up my phone. I let her know when I got the check (she asked me to, still trying to be a good person) and she said “Okay contact me as soon as the check is deposited in to your account so i can instruct on what to do next” And I didn’t answer. ‘Cause I went to the bank, and knew 100% that it was fraud. She continued to text me… “Good morning Fiona have you deposited the check in to your account yet ?” “ARE YOU THERE ?” “ARE YOU THERE ?” “Is the check deposited in to your account yet ?” And I’m over here like, wtf do I do, I don’t want to tell her I know it’s fake and ruin any scheme to catch her, but I also don’t want her blowing up my phone… So I said “It’s processing.” and she said “I will like you to go ahead and send some money to the store manager now so that she can make arrangement for Ben’s stuff without any delay” (Ben is the name of her son) she proceeded to give me the information for the store manager I was supposed to forward money to. Then she said “Fiona have you transfer the money to the store manager yet ?” “ARE YOU THERE ?” And at this point, I’m getting pissed off and annoyed and I’m not just gonna sit there and be a little bitch about it. So here’s the next bit of the conversation…
Me: Why am I transferring money to Ohio?
Kathleen: That’s where the store is located and i have been dealing with them for some time and i trust them.. The store manager will be sending you Ben’s items via fedex via express delivery. Have you transfer the money to [store manager] yet ?
Me: Do you have an arrival date yet? Because I thought you were supposed to be here for February.
Kathleen: Yes February 7th and i already booked for the hotel… Which is why I want My Son’s items to be deliver to you on Monday.
Me: What am I supposed to do with the rest of the money?
Kathleen: Deduct 500 as your upfront payment as agreed and keep the rest for My Son’s upkeep during his time of stay with you… Go ahead and send the money to the store manager now so that you can have Son’s items deliver to you on monday
Kathleen: Have you transfer the money to the store manager yet ?
Kathleen: Is this how you are going to take care of my Son not doing what is right when I go to work.. Are you telling me you are not capable of taking of Son is that what you mean now. The store manager is About 50 years of age and we kept her waiting all thru yesterday.. I have respect for this woman and i wish to keep that
Me: [so freaking pissed off] Are you kidding me? Look, don’t be questioning my morals. I’m done with this “babysitting job”. If you even HAVE a son, I would suggest getting a real job instead of sending fake checks to people who only want to help. You’re not even a good scammer. Don’t ever contact me again, or the police will become involved. Also, learn to spell or you will never be able to trick anyone. Business does not have a Z in it.
And she hasn’t texted me back. I have a tendency to act on my feelings, and I was so annoyed… I just couldn’t resist telling this bitch off. Not my smartest move, I know. But she can suck a dick, I’m done with it! I forwarded all of her emails and information to Chase and I’m praying she gets caught.
PPS. An awesome article about babysitting scams from Care.com… check it out HERE!