A counselor in Kent, Ohio contacted us today, and asked us to forward this information. For your reference:
I am a counselor in private practice in Kent, Ohio and nearly fell for an online scam that is targeting counselors. I’m sharing this with you as it might be of interest to your readers.
The scam goes like this. You will receive an email as follows:
“Hello my name is Chelsea, I’m in the Phillipines for a year contract, but I will be coming for my annual holiday in the United States from the 20th of July to August 25th and I will like to see a counselor because my fiancee just jilted me and this is affecting me and I think I need a counselor to speak to. I have therefore decide to attend about 4 to 6 hour sessions , please let me know how much each session would cost, Once am sure of the price, I will have my associate in the United States send you a cashiers check payment as I will like to make payment and bookings in advance.”
I received a similar email on June 10 (Chelsea was in the United Kingdom then). Via email, a series of counseling appointments were scheduled, totaling $725 in fees. The person mailed me a check (in an envelop without a return address) for nearly $3,000.
When I emailed the person about the check, she said her associate had made a mistake and asked me to cash the check, take my fees out along with some extra for my time and effort and wire the remaining funds to her associate in Georgia.
The check looked incredibly real and was allegedly from a credit union in Tennessee — which is probably fake also
Before cashing the check, a friend warned me that I’d be stuck for the funds if the check didn’t clear. In 10 years of private practice, I’ve had two or three checks bounce, so I’m not suspicious of most people’s checks. Upon looking much closer at the check, the bank routing number was 99999999, which is most likely fake too. I emailed the person, asking for an address to return the check and suggesting she pay for her sessions at the time of service which is common practice. I never heard from her again until yesterday, when I received the above email. They are trying to scam me again!
I have reported all this to the FBI.
I’m a faithful reader of the private practice column in Counseling Today and don’t recall too many articles about scams. Thanks for reading and have a great day.