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Modelling Agency Overpayment Scam

Outline
Emails claim that a modelling agency wishes to use your photograph for a billboard advertisement and ask that you reply to give approval for use of the image and to arrange payment.



Brief Analysis
The emails are not from a modelling agency. In fact, the messages are part of an overpayment scam designed to trick victims into "laundering" the proceeds of crime.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



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Last updated: 21st March 2011
First published: 21st March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
I am Frederick N Dawson a representative of a modeling company situated in Bristol, United Kingdom. Your picture hads been selected for a billboard advertisment/and local advert here at heathrow airport.Your pictures had been accepted by the Agency Ghost Inc

You will receive a check payment for the contract.You will deduct 15% of the check payment for using your gorgeous pictures for billboard advert; and proceed to sending the balance over to your appointed Agent via western union Money Tranfer for Legal Documentation of the deal and "Comp card".This payment will also be used as "Sign up fee" with the agent

We awaiting to receive four picture of you.The photos required is basically for a Coca cola advertisment bill board at Heathrow airport in london..Let us know your decision ASAP.


Our Agency is interested in using your picturees for an advert. We presently have a billboard advert and your profile is chosen to do the job. Please reply with your approval before we can go ahead. All replies should be emailed to..[removed].. Quote this ref in your reply ********.

MY BEST REGARDS, MARY ADAMSON

Hello , I represent Michland Modelling Company in United State and we have selected your portfolio for a Black Berry billboard advertisement at Heathrow Airport,London. all we need is your approval.You just get paid for your pictures right away, e-mail your replies to [removed]



Detailed Analysis
These emails, which are supposedly from a modelling agency, claim that your photograph has been chosen for use on a billboard advertisement. The messages ask you to reply with your permission to use the photographs and to arrange for the modelling fee to be sent to you.

However, the messages are not from any legitimate modelling agency and there is no truth to the claim that your photograph has been selected for a billboard advertisement. In fact the emails represent just another variant of the long running overpayment scam, a canny criminal scheme designed to turn the proceeds of crime into untraceable cash.

If you reply to one of these scam emails, you will soon receive your "modelling fee" via a cheque or a direct transfer to your bank account. However, the amount you receive will be considerably higher than the agreed-upon fee. The scammer will instruct you to deduct the modelling fee from this amount and wire the remainder to a third party, ostensibly to cover other agency fees or legal costs. However, the cheque will be stolen or forged or, in the case of direct transfers, the funds will come from a hijacked bank account. The money you wire to the "third party" will actually go straight back to the scammer.

Via this ruse, the criminal will effectively "launder" the money he has stolen while leaving you holding the bundle. Since you processed the funds through your own bank account, subsequent police investigations will lead directly to your door. Meanwhile, the criminal will have absconded, having received the bulk of the stolen funds in cash.

Criminals regularly use variants of this scam to turn stolen funds into untraceable cash. Victims often find themselves out of pocket and possibly facing criminal charges. These scammers use many cover stories as vehicles for their laundering schemes. In a lot of versions, the scammers offer the potential victim a "payment processing" job in which they are instructed to deduct a percentage of each transaction processed as their "wages" and wire the remainder back to their "employer". In other versions, the scammer will agree to buy an item for sale online but will send an amount considerably higher than the original asking price. The bogus "buyer" will ask the hapless seller to wire the extra amount to a third party such as a shipping agent. Of course, the "shipping agent" will be the scammer himself.

Be very cautious of any job offer that instructs you to process received funds through your own bank account, deduct a percentage as your payment, and wire the remainder back to the "employee". No legitimate organization is ever likely to conduct business in this manner. Nor is any genuine buyer likely to send you more than the asking price for an item and expect you to wire the extra amount to a third party.

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Last updated: 21st March 2011
First published: 21st March 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer