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November 11, 2009

Tutors targeted in want-ad scam

Evening News, Tribune pulled ad from newspapers Nov. 1

A want-ad that ran on the classified page of The Evening News and The Tribune has been reported to be a scam, according to investigators from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department.

The advertisement, which begins “TUTORS NEEDED,” states that a person is seeking a tutor for a 12-year-old boy to provide an hour of instruction in several subjects three days a week. The advertisement states that the tutor will be paid $50 per hour and directs the reader to the e-mail cowaltls@aol.com.

The sheriff’s department received a report from someone who said the person she e-mailed from the ad was trying to scam her out of money. Police say the scam artist claims to be from overseas and says he is seeking a tutor for his son, daughter or nephew who will be visiting the United States.

After exchanging several e-mails, he may ask for the tutor’s phone number and mailing address. He then sends the tutor a cashier’s check worth much more than the tutor fee, often claiming the excess funds are to be used as payment for a nanny. The tutor is instructed to cash the check and wire money to the “nanny.”

The cashier’s check is fake, but realistic enough to be accepted by the bank. By the time the check is revealed to be phony, the prospective tutor has already sent the money to the perpetrator of the scam. It is returned against the tutor’s account. The advertisement ran in The Evening News and The Tribune from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1. Similar postings have been popular in newspapers across the country and on www.craigslist.org.

Jim Grahn, publisher of The Evening News, said the newspaper called the phone number provided with the ad and spoke to a person who confirmed its content. He said the advertisement was pulled as soon as suspicions arose.

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