|A Personal Message!
Tom Dyer breaks his personal embarrassed silence
with hope that you will learn enough today,
to escape from fraud unscathed tomorrow!
Like everyone else, I thought that I was TOO smart ever to get hit by fraud people. I have been self-employed for over 25 years. I have taken my up and down times in business, but I thought that I had attained this high level of experience that they could never hit me. I "knew" everything.
What I didn't know, was that presumption of "knowing" is the vulnerability for all of us that leaves the back window open to allow a con man access to our psyche. To know all the little details that can be preyed upon by a professional con man you would have to have a computer brain implant and daily updates. I have learned from a prominent fraud investigator that these professionals keep churning out approaches based on different details until they hit the turn of phrase that hits the victim's personal hot button. There may be very few cons that would work on me, simply because I do have a certain level of knowledge, but every scam will work on someone!
What is your hot button? The number of possibilities is too endless to contemplate but rest assured, it is inevitable that you do have open windows for the professional criminal to crawl through. I fell for a fraud that said "Only after the money CLEARS your account." This made it a real business transaction for me. After all, in the real world where we all play fair, that is when the bank declares the funds from a cheque are "GOOD" and available to you to do what you will; the cheque is GOOD!, that is what it means, right?. However, apparently under the Bank Act, a bank has "a reasonable length of time" to clear a cheque. As I understand it now, they tell me this actually means over 60 days. The fact that they often clear a cheque in 10 days is considered a service or favour that they provide to their clients. They still have this "reasonable length of time" to clear the cheque, regardless of having released the funds to you.
I have led a reasonable life so that I can be a proud citizen. I am a member and past master of a service club, and I have also been a member of the Toronto Police Auxiliary in the past. I have been self-employed for more than 25 years and always been fair and honest in business. I hold my integrity high and those that know me, would bank on it. I have recently discovered that a great deal of my self-esteem rests on this recognition for doing the good-right thing by people, even if it means self-sacrifice. It's probably why I am still not wealthy after fifty-eight years of living. My biggest crime I have committed in life is that I speed on the highways. I have even been caught doing this. Other than that, I live a dull and boring existence of working for a living. And being involved with or perpetrating a fraud scam was never a part of my to-do list.
I was approached and entered a business arrangement. It was to aid the transfer of funds from North America to the Orient by handling the clearing the funds through Toronto for a commission of 10%. I briefly checked into this and it seemed reasonable when an independent advisor said that a normal clearing house could/would charge up to 40% to move such funds to some countries. I could understand the logic of an oriental businessman like me trying to find a cheaper way to get his money and I could also see that the labour involved for me to handle this was negligible. Again, "You forward the money on to the Orient ONLY after the funds CLEAR your account," made it a real protected business transaction to me. I was hesitant but with a wait and see how this works out attitude I agreed to do business with this gentleman. To come to this decision I relied on the bank system. If the cheque cleared then this could be a profitable venture for both sides but if the cheque didn't clear, there is no harm done, right.
The first cheque made out to me arrived and it was not from some unrecognizable source of questionable resources; it was from Danone, the yogurt people. It warmed my heart to see a familiar logo of a large corporation; and it made me feel secure that this new business relationship would actually have long term positive implications. I was in no hurry, and I told the bank teller so when I asked how long would the clearing process take? Ten days she responded also qualifying this because it was a high cheque amount. If the bank had said it would take 30 or 60 days I would have been quite happy to wait, after all, I relied on the bank to indicate if there was to be any problem whatsoever. Still in no hurry, I returned to the bank one day later than the teller had suggested, to ask if the cheque had been made good. I was told it had, and I proceeded with the next step of my business responsibility. There was no indication that anything was amiss, so, I asked the teller to arrange to send the bulk of the $18,800.00CDN funds less my 10% commission to the oriental account that had been provided to me. She did so.
Three days later, another next cheque arrived for processing. This too was from a recognizable international corporation, and considering the previous successful transaction I was only happy to proceed to deposit a cheque from Walmart. Again I was in no hurry when I asked the teller, when I should return to find the cheque had cleared. This time the teller replied 30 days because this cheque was in US funds. No problem, see you in a month, I said, as I pondered if this was a niche business that I could market to other off-shore manufacturers who have to pay such a high price to move their money.
Six days after the Bank had apparently wired the money, Mr. Wang Chang of the Kochi Inter Trade Company in Japan emailed to say that the money had not arrived in the orient and asked me to put a trace on these funds. I called the Bank right away about my clients concern and the Bank said it was too soon to start a trace and I should wait a full ten days to do so. Later on the same day I received a call from the assistant manager of the bank declaring the Danone cheque was a fraud. Oh my God! I thought as this struck me as incredulous. How can this be? The money is missing! You people cleared this cheque as GOOD! And now you say it's not good! Where is the money?
This news of being caught in a web of nebulous half truths shook my world, and turned my whole life up-side down. I needed information. I needed to understand this. I immediately went to talk to the bank manager on the seventh day and found her just accusatory and insulting. She cited the words, "This cheque is from my new employer." that I was supposed to have said to the teller on depositing the Danone cheque. When I commented that this statement is incorrect because as a long term self-employed person, this statement is simply not in my vocabulary, she retorted, "You're just a common liar." I asked her to trace the money and she put her hands up and said, "We are not going there!" She demanded I repay the money or she would call the police about me. Trust me on this, the bank manager is not your friend when you are defrauded. The loss happened on her watch and she is the last person on the continent to have the money and she is humanly trying everything to make sure that you are the designated decoy so that no blame comes her way, to challenge her employment. Later on the same day I was informed the Walmart cheque was also a fraud and that the money was frozen in my account. This discovery had only taken five days since its deposit and yet the Danone cheque had lapsed sixteen days and this fraud only surfaced after a trace was asked to be put on the money. Would a number of cheques been processed without challenge if Mr Chang had not asked for a trace on his money?
Day Eight, I felt isolated and alone. As a businessman my first instinct was to take proactive action, to stop the bleeding and limit any damage. The bank was stonewalling any such effort to trace the missing money and/or retrieval of the funds from the oriental bank. The bank manager simply hung me out to dry and refused to help. With Google searching I personally followed the trail of the account I had been given as the destination for funds. It was Saturday but I emailed asking that the CHIBA Bank in Japan to please just hold the funds until the issuing bank contacts them with information of this fraud.
I emailed the CHIBA Bank everyday until I got a response telling me that while the money was not yet there, and therefore it was as yet unclaimed, I could not interrupt the money transfer. Only the issuing bank had the power to do so.
On day 10, I received two emails marked urgent from Mr Wang Chang stating that they had still not received their money. I also received a phone call from Chang's Montreal agent Mr James Williams, stating the same concern for the whereabouts of the funds. I didn't divulge that the bank was saying this was fraud because so far they had not provided any documentation I requested to prove it so. And I again met with the Bank Manager. I had a list of questions, she had one interest, when would I repay her money? I asked, What does it mean when a bank "Clears" a cheque? What are they going to do to try and stop the wire transfer? What is the name and phone number of the bank's security officer? She repeatedly put her hands up and said, "We are not discussing that point. On three occasions she declared this meeting is over because I asked for answers she was not prepared to provide. She spoke to me in a condescending fashion as though I were a little child.
I felt trapped and alone in a perilous maze of unknowns. My first instinct was still to recover the money and save the day. I knew there was still a window of opportunity to do this but as the patsy I had absolutely no authority to do so. Where is the money? How can I motivate someone to retrieve it? My bank manager flatly refused to undertake any retrival action declaring it as futile waste of time. Not all banks or managers would behave the same way but what did she have to gain by the bother of attempting to retrieve the money? After all from her perspective she had me, the scapegoat right here, to hold accountable. As far as she was concerned she had no risk for losing the money. I continued to try to follow the money. If it was not yet in the oriental bank, there was a possibility of preventing its release. Where was the money after so long? Finally, on the 21st day at 3pm my bank manager called to tell me the money had arrived in the orient and had been immediately released, so it would not be retrivable. If she had such a pulse on the money being processed in the orient why did she not order the transfer stopped when I gave her all the documents necessary and asked her to do so, just as the oriental bank said she could. I'd like to see documents proving that money was released because Chang still claims it was never recieved.
Also on day 21 the bank's collections department was calling to demand that I repay $26,687.00CDN for the Walmart cheque? What was different about the Walmart cheque and the money locked in the banks frozen account that collections was right on top of its retrieval, and yet the Danone cheque with missing funds for 11 days never did get this attention from bank collections dept? Even the supposed oriental crooks continued to badger me for weeks after this by phone and email questioning, Where is the money? If the crooks don't have it and I don't have it, who was the last to have it?
The story goes on and on with so much detail but for now, I am sure you get the sense of how devastating such an event is and how is seems the entire world turns against you. It undermines your sense of self, and worthiness with such a crushing blow that is hard to recover. When you are a victim of a fraud, you have no idea where you are or what is real. You turn to peers with your story deeply needing something of a supportive ear and yet, as much as they may feel for you, they immediately internalize the story and blurt, I would never fall for such a thing! How stupid are you? Since the first announcement of this shocking news my muscles began to hurt, and I have heavy pains in my chest. This is not the supportive nurturing I needed to hear.
As a fallen king I felt isolated and alone and searched to find anything, anyone, any wisdom that could help to resolve the catastrophe in a positive outcome. I felt helpless to do anything to repair the situation or even shed understanding of what was happening. The unknown is the biggest human fear and this gripped me, and squeezed until my chest hurt constantly. I dearly needed to know how all this happened, How did it all work? Could I have done something to avoid this? Now, after all these years of trying to lead a good citizen life, was I now a criminal as the Bank Manager adamantly declared? What was going to happen to me? What could I do to prepare for next steps? I found no help anywhere. When your life is turned upside down and you really have no where to turn, IT HURTS, and it keeps on hurting in every corner of your existence unless there is a breakdown!
As I looked for help and the wisdom to understand what I was going through I saw that in other areas of crime there are a multitude of support systems for victims. There are posters and pamphlets and counselors and recovery homes for all kinds of human plights but for the victim of fraud there is nothing but disdain. Whether it is abuse of sex, abuse of a female, or a child, etc., we all share the same symptoms. Abuse of any kind hurts and destroys the victim! This is the reason for creating FraudGuard Inc and this web-site.
I am trying to help other citizens avoid similar fate. I am trying to help other victims understand how they became victimized and offer guidance to next steps. I am trying to protect our economy from the proliferation of fraud. And I am trying to help children who innocently become led astray and away from their lives by predators in fraudulent disguise.
LET'S WORK TOGETHER to make Canadians STREET SMART against any type of fraud abuse.
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