Man loses $100,000 in phony business scheme

Amy Hamblin

Man loses $100,000 in phony business scheme

An Evanston man lost $100,000 in an Internet scam earlier this month when he entered into a fraudulent business venture, police said.

The 57-year-old man believed he was starting a “import-export” business with Bombardier Inc., a Montreal-based manufacturer of airplane and railroad parts, said Deputy Chief Joe Bellino of Evanston Police Department. Three people who claimed to work for the company e-mailed him about establishing a new business, Bellino said.

The man received a $100,000 check from the company on May 12, Bellino said. Following instructions from the company, he deposited the check and then wired money from his account to a third party on May 17, Bellino said.

Two days later, National City bank told him the check had bounced, Bellino said. On the same day the company sent him another check for $95,850, Bellino said, which the man took to police to report the incident.

Both checks appeared to be from Bank of America. But online scams often use authentic-looking logos from banks, said Amanda Jones, the senior crime-prevention specialist at EPD.

Because Internet crime tends to be sophisticated, Jones cautioned against immediately acting on any type of online offer before learning more about it.

“I would no more set up a business online than I would blind date via the Internet,” she said. “You don’t know what you’ll get. There’s no way to backtrack and find out who it is.”

Bellino said Internet criminals are harder to catch, particularly with international schemes. The alleged Bombardier contacts were from Canada and Britain, Bellino noted.

“People are so willing to believe everything online is legitimate that it has opened up a new genre of scams,” Bellino said. “The bottom line is if it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

— Amy Hamblin