International cheque fraud targets Peacock's Photo owners

Peacock's Photo co-owner Kris Kann with the light table he's selling, and the buyer's bogus cheque that's allegedly part of a global scam.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Local lensman Kris Kann outwitted Cowichan's latest scam, whereby he would have become a fraudster himself.

It all started in mid-October when the co-owner of Duncan's Peacock's Photo wanted to sell an expensive light table for $1,000.

"I looked on the net and saw it's worth $5,000 new. I put it on Used Victoria and Used Cowichan for $1,000.

"Within a day, we got someone emailing, asking 'What's your final price?' We said $1,000 plus shipping.

"Then we got an email through Yahoo saying 'Yes' and 'We'll send you the money,'" he said of the initial response on Oct. 15.

A week later Kann had received no dough and emailed the buyer.

"They said 'Be patient, you should get it any day.'"

On Oct. 31 Kann received a $4,500 cheque drawn on Coast Capital Savings Credit Union's Broadmoor branch in Richmond.

But Kann smelled a rat.

"It had explicit instructions saying 'Please take out the money we owe you and send the balance, through Western Union, to an address in Paris, France.'"

That $3,500 was to be sent to a Steve Allen in Paris.

"I thought it stunk," he said of the crooks playing on greed or naivete.

"We thought 'Why was he sending us $4,500 for a $1,000 item?'"

So Kann headed to Duncan's Bank of Nova Scotia, and talked to manager David Strong.

"They checked the transit number for the Coast Capital in Richmond and the number was way off.

"Then we went to Coast Capital in Duncan. They immediately got on the computer, and in two minutes they said 'It's a fraud.'"

Next, Kann visited the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, but met disappointing interest about the scam.

"The RCMP couldn't have cared less. They didn't even want to see the cheque, and the man at reception said 'This happens all the time.'

"He was polite, but it was a blow off," Kann said. "I had to force him to take my name and address, and I haven't heard anything since."

The plain-clothes attendant told Kann he'd be committing a crime by cashing the bogus cheque.

"I was a little disappointed because I figured we'd get a call from police inquiring about more information for a case file, in case other people called the police — there might be someone else getting scammed."

Local Mounties were unavailable for comment by press time Monday.

Meanwhile, the fraudsters, using the name Justin Bruce, persisted — despite being told by Kann that he'd forwarded the fake cheque to the RCMP.

"We got an email the next day asking if we got our money.

"I replied 'We got your cheque, and turned it over to the RCMP.' The next day they asked if we'd cashed the cheque yet."

The moral? "Be careful who buys your product on line," warned Kann.

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