June 3, 2020
Fort Myers, Florida magician George Gilbert has thwarted international con artists engaged in the “over-payment scam.”
George Gilbert was approached via e-mail by an anonymous client inquiring about his services as a magical entertainer for an upcoming corporate event. “It was very odd” said Gilbert. “They did not have a firm date or location, but agreed to my rate without question.” Gilbert noticed some odd patterns in the syntax of the e-mails and did some research and discovered that he had been targeted by international scam artists.
“The over-payment scam is a very popular scam used by international con men” learned Gilbert. The scam targets entertainers via e-mail. The potential “client” agrees to whatever the fee is and offer to send the full performance fee in advance via money order or wire transfer. To most entertainers, this is a dream come true. But the nightmare begins when payment arrives. “The client will over pay the entertainer, sometimes by two or three times the agreed upon amount” said Gilbert. The scam comes when the prospective “client” contacts the entertainer to alert him/her of the mistake and to ask that the entertainer return the difference. “The problem is” says Gilbert, “that the money order or wire-transfer are fake, and before the contracted performer realizes it, he/she has sent the prospective client the difference of an over payment that is fraudulent to begin with.” This can result in hundreds, and even thousands of dollars being stolen and resulting in overdraft and returned items charges.
Gilbert warns fellow entertainers to be wary of any potential client who agrees to a fee without even having a phone conversation. “That was a huge red flag” added Gilbert. Further, entertainers should never accept payment via money order or wire transfer, and should insist on payment via credit card.
Luckily, George Gilbert was able identify the scam and thwart the efforts of the international con men. George hopes his story serves to help others avoid the trap that some many other entertainers fall victim to.
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