New type of 419 scam (or How difficult is it to counterfeit USPO money orders?)

With all of the watermarks, etc., I’d think you’d have to have a pretty good operation.

I ask because a colleague of mine keeps coming across this obvious scam on Craigslist. It’s in the Help Wanted section, under education. The poster is advertising the need for a tutor for her son, while he is “on vacation” in the states. The scenario (country of origin, etc.) varies, but the rest is a cut and paste version of a 419 scam. I told my friend it wouldn’t hurt to get the “check or money order,” and then look it over, perhaps turn it over to the feds. But two things:

  1. Respond in German, to see if “she” really is German.
  2. Demand that the payment be in the form of a USPO money order.

So my friend briefly expressed interest (but sent no resume or references), and here’s how the exchange went after that:
================Scam Exchange on====================
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 19:00:34 -0800
Subject: tutor needed

My name is Mrs Eleda Masun I am from Germany but resides in the United Kingdom,
I have a Son His name is Ray is 15 years old. Whom will be coming
for an holiday in the states he’s in the high school, so the teaching
per hour which should be $50.00/hr (which i have in mind) so get back
to me with the total and also i want you to know that my client who is
in US will be sending you my salary payment also to let you know that
payment will be by certified check
or Money Order .In view of this I need you to email me any information
that may be required to send the payment as I do not want to send the
check to a wrong location lest they get into the wrong hands. I also
want to alert you on the fact that you will be receiving an overdraft
payment from a client of mine in the US, which will cover the money for
the tutorial and the balance will be wire via western union to a Nanny that will be taking care of my son travel expenses,accommodations and any other
he might needs to get him to the state, The nanny will be the one to
bring him to you whenever he’s suppose to be with you and will also be
the one to pick him up after every tutorial. The tutorials can take
place at your residence or any nearest library around you. as soon as
you receive the payment,go ahead and have it cash immediately,deduct
the money that accrues to you for the tutorial, and send the balance to
the nanny for my son travel expenses,accommodations and any other
expenses via Western union. The Check or Money Order will be in your
name to make it easier for you to receive payment, please reconfirm
your details one more time. I will give you the details of the nanny to
wire the balance to once you get the payment. I hope i can count on you
for the tutorial and the BALANCE you are sending to the Guardian. Here
are some of the details I will need for final issuance of the
certified Check or Money Order to you below:
(1) Your Charge For An Hour…
(2) Total Charges For 2Weeks, 2 Times A Week, And 2 Hours Each Day
(3) Full Name
(4) Mailing address,
(5) your direct telephone number both home and cell.
(6) Acceptance of my offer

you get back to me with all the above, the Certified Check or Money
Order will be issued and it will be sent to you .Hope to hear from you
immediately. I hope i can trust you with the rest of the funds that
will be sent to the Nanny and i can trust you that you will teach my
son good academics and some moral respects so that they can be good to
their self in the future,Looking forward to your swift response. Thanks
and please get back to me asap if you are interested…
Best Regards
— On Tue, 1/13/09, Jane Doe <> wrote:

From: Jane Doe &lt;;
Subject: RE: tutor needed
Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 9:31 AM

Leibe Frau Masun:

Viele Danken fur ihr Brief. Als ihr Information:

1. $45
2. $360
3. Jane Doe
4. 4621 Russell Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
5. (323) 555-2135 Am heim habe ich keine
6. Ich nehme es an.

Ich arbeite in meiner Kirche, wo wir estudieren konnen. Aber, meine Kirche nehme kein check an, nur money order von der U.S. Postal Service.

Ich warte ihr Antwort.

--Jane Doe


From: Eleda Masun (
Sent: Tue 1/13/09 6:53 AM
To: Jane Doe (
Thanks for getting back to me, i really appreciate it and will let you know once the payment has been sent with instructions to follow ok.
Eleda masun
forgot to say happy new year…

=========================Scam exchange off===========

Notice how eager and quickly she responds, even though my friend hasn’t sent any evidence of experience or references.

Since it’s going to be sent from within the U.S., then it might prove useful for at least a mail fraud investigation.

they treat money orders like a form of US currency, so counterfeiting them can warrant severe punishment

That’s what I was thinking. If it’s just a fabricated check, I don’t think the feds will be involved. But if a money order is treated as currency, then the feds–who know, maybe the Secret Service–will want to know.