Mid-South college student avoids online scam

A Mid-South nanny thought who she was hired for a job soon realized she was actually the target of an online scam.  Courtney Myers was given thousands of dollars in advance to take care of a family moving to the Mid-South.  Quickly, she found out the money and the family did not exist.

"I love kids, I love helping people," Myers said.

But she nearly helped the wrong person.  A man who called himself Bobby Maxwell said in an email to Myers that he and his family were moving from Beijing to Bartlett next month.

"He needed a nanny Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:00, and he'd pay $700 a week," she said.

$700 per week was double what Myers, a 20-year-old student, made as a nanny.  Maxwell said he would send $950 in advance.  Instead, Myers received nearly $10,000 in money orders.  Maxwell told her to keep half, and send him the rest back in cash.

That was when the red flags went up for Myers.  "As soon as I opened the envelope and saw $10,000 of money orders I knew something was not right," she said.

Myers called the police, and eventually Jack Dietz at the Postal Inspection Service took over the case.

According to Dietz, the scam happens when a person cashes counterfeit money orders, and then wire the cash to the scammers.  By the time the bank realizes the money orders are fake, it's too late.

Dietz said many of these scams originate in Nigeria, and the culprits usually are hard to find.  "If you're dealing with someone over the internet, and there's some sort of financial transaction involved wiring money especially overseas, I wouldn't do it," he said.

Dietz's office has intercepted more than $3 million worth of counterfeit money orders in west Tennessee alone.

Tuesday, Myers emailed Maxwell and told him, on the advice of the Postal Inspectors, that she knew she was being scammed and that she had alerted authorities.

She said Maxwell has not yet responded.

If you think you are the victim of an online scam, call the United States Postal Service at 1-866-459-7822 or visit them online at www.usps.com.