Bob DiRaimo of New Tampa sold his business a few years ago and was looking for a new project to sink his teeth into. He posted his resume on Monster.com and was recruited by a company called Heaventour Srl. "What they called it was a travel coordinator," says DiRaimo.
DiRaimo says he found the offer intriguing because it was different. "As a travel coordinator, I had a salary and 5% commission of everything I processed for them." The base salary, he says, was $3,000 a month.
DiRaimo became suspicious when he learned his job would be to cash checks and wire the money to other countries. "The idea behind the business was that people wanted to pay by check but the business overseas would not accept the checks so the checks were going to actually be written out to me. I would cash the check, send 95% of the proceeds to wherever they told me to wire the money."
Having to wire the money, says DiRaimo, was another red flag. But he decided to play along to see how the company operated. He says he received the first check for $2,118 from a couple in New York. But the check was mailed from California.
DiRaimo says he took the check to his bank and asked the manager to take a look at it, because DiRaimo was concerned it was fraudulent. DiRaimo says the bank Manager told him the check looked legitimate. It appeared to be drawn on a valid account and that the signature seemed to match.
But upon closer inspection, DiRaimo says the Manager said there were some irregularities. Numbers were not in the appropriate place. Still the Manager told DiRimo "That was the best fraud he had run across involving checks."
Two weeks later, DiRaimo says, another check arrived. This one from a couple in Ocala, Florida but again mailed from California. DiRaimo did not cash either of the checks but he did alert the FBI and Eight on Your Side. He says he wants to warn others about this apparent fake check scam.
He also found some similar scam stories about Heaventour Srl online. Eight on Your Side emailed and called the phone number associated with Heaventour Srl but did not receive a response.
According to postal inspector Doug Smith, as a rule, there is no legitimate reason why someone would send you a check and ask you to wire-transfer money in return. He says never wire-transfer money to someone you don't know. Once the money is gone, it's usually impossible to recover.
The Better Business Bureau says the takeaway here is that you are responsible for any check you deposit in your bank account. If it turns out to be counterfeit, you are responsible for the loss, which means you're out the money.