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Scam Alert: Toss in orphans

THE SCAM: Helping orphans

HOW IT WORKS: Getting a job offer, and one that helps poor orphans to boot, sounds like a wonderful opportunity. But the e-mail that arrives in your inbox with that scenario is a scam. The e-mail comes from "Andy Mac," who says he runs a home for orphans in the United Kingdom. The e-mail offers the recipient a job as a domestic "donations handler," who deposits donations into an account, minus a 10 percent fee, and wires the rest to the orphanage. Agreeing to the job results in the arrival of a bogus $5,000 check from "Mac," who instructs the recipient to deposit it, take a $500 fee and wire him back the rest. Of course, the scammer wants the victim to deposit a phony check and wire $4,500 from his or her account overseas.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Your money and account information

HOW TO BEAT IT: Because it uses appeals to emotion and the thought of an easy financial windfall, this scam is particularly clever. Still, it has all the warning signs: overseas wire transfers, mysterious transactions, "checks" you have to deposit and send back. Those are flashing warning signs. If you're going to help orphans, do it through an established organization.

Contact Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer at or 578-2331.

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