Officials in at least three U.S. states are warning consumers about an international check-cashing scam tied to an apparently fake software company in Latvia preying on online job seekers.
Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe joined other state officials Aug. 15 in warning consumers about Void Computers Inc., a supposed Latvian company that has recruited its victims on the popular job-seeking Internet portal CareerBuilder.com.
Individuals contacted through the job portal have been told that Void Computers needs help cashing invoice payment checks issued by the State of Arkansas, one of the company’s supposed clients. Once they agree to become Void’s agents, the individuals have been mailed the checks, in some cases from Turkey, and have been asked to cash them and then wire the money to an account in Latvia. For their services, the individuals are allowed to keep 10 percent of the value of the check.
“These scam artists are using Arkansas’ name to commit their crime,” Beebe said in a press statement. “Our state agencies will continue to investigate and trace these checks to put a stop to this activity.”
Arkansas State Auditor Jim Wood said the checks from his state all bear the same warrant number, 05I-0614300, which originally was for an income tax refund mailed to California. The checks have been for amounts of USD 2,400 and USD 2,800. Individuals who have received the checks have been told by Void Computers to avoid banks, but to cash the checks at liquor stores, check-cashers and other businesses.
While Arkansas has not lost any money in the scheme, the individuals tricked in the scam in some cases now owe their local banks thousands of dollars.
Messages posted on the anti-scam Web sites Scam.com and 419eaters.com report that individuals who sought jobs through CareerBuilder.com have received e-mail from someone named John Johnson, who claims to work for the Rīga-based software company Void Computers Inc. In the e-mail, he states Void Computers is insured by a company named Latgost, supposedly Latvia’s largest insurance company.
Latvia’s business registry has no listing for either Void Computers or Latgost.
The Arkansas Attorney General’s Office said the forged checks have turned up in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
One of the earliest warnings about the scheme came from Connecticut Banking Commissioner John P. Burke, who on July 19 warned his state’s consumers about the scam. Following Arkansas’ warning, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett issued a similar message to his state’s consumers on Aug. 16.
American consumer advocate David Horowitz also has mentioned the scam on his Web site, www.fightback.com.
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