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New Jersey Rescue Scammed, Now Owes $7000

How terrible! What a scumbag to scam these dedicated rescuers! I'm thinking there's a really nasty future waiting for this "man!" Okay, at least I...

Joy  |  Dec 11th 2006


Benny with Mary Parente and Linda Schiller.jpg

How terrible! What a scumbag to scam these dedicated rescuers! I’m thinking there’s a really nasty future waiting for this “man!” Okay, at least I hope there’s a really nasty future waiting for him!

Thanks to Jade Snoop for posting this news in the Pet-O-Nomics Group!

This news comes from The Daily Record.

Rockaway animal rescue group scammed
Eleventh Hour Rescue gets fake $10,000 check; scrambles to pay $7,000

BY MATT MANOCHIO
DAILY RECORD

A local pet-rescue network thought it got a Christmas miracle in the mail in the form of a $10,000 check, but all it got was scammed and now the organization is scrambling to pay a $7,000 bill.

Mary Parente, a volunteer with Eleventh Hour Rescue, a nonprofit animal rescue organization based in Rockaway, on Tuesday said her organization was contacted via e-mail by a man named Benjamin Godsonn, who wrote that he wanted to donate some money.

She received a check via FedEx from Godsonn for $10,000 on Thursday, and the group was ecstatic.

“We were literally crying,”Parente said. “We ran to the bank and deposited it.”

Parente said the money would enable the foster network to pay off some outstanding veterinarian bills, and save more dogs and cats from being put to sleep. She said the group committed to rescuing and treating 11 dogs, all because of the donation.

“We even named one after this guy because we thought he was our savior,” she said.

Some warning flags soon began popping up, however.

She said Eleventh Hour noticed the name on the check, which was certified by Sterling Bank in Houston, had a name different from Godsonn’s on it. Despite that, the group still felt it was legitimate because the check was watermarked and looked real.

“It was as legitimate as it could come,” she said, later adding, “Apparently that’s what their thing is. The check is so real-looking. It’s so official.”

Red flag

Then, a few days later, Parente received an e-mail from Godsonn saying that his secretary meant to only issue a check for $4,500 and not $6,500. He asked her to wire money to an address in Illinois.

“He wanted $2,000 (wired) via Western Union — there’s no way to track it,” she said. “That’s when a red flag came up with us. We were like, wait a minute, what is he talking about? He sent $10,000 and referred to $6,500.”

Parente’s local branch officer said none of this sounded right. She went so far as to call the Houston bank that allegedly issued the check.

“She knew what I was talking about,” Parente said of the banker in Texas. Parente was informed by the Houston bank “that’s a complete scam” and it happens “all over the country every day.”

Parente got an e-mail from Sterling Bank in Houston confirming the fraud and Eleventh Hour never sent the money.

“The best thing that a merchant can do if someone presents a Sterling Bank check is call us,” said Graham Painter, executive vice president of corporate communication for Sterling. He said the number is (713) 466-8300.

Painter declined to say what sets a good check apart from a bad one because banks don’t want to let the crooks know what they’re looking for.

“The big picture is scanners have gotten very sophisticated,” he said. “(Cons) buy a cashier’s check, scan it and alter it, and print it on high-quality paper.

“Instead of $50 (it’s altered) to $5,000,” he gave as an example. He said con men print many of these checks and end up selling them.

Parente said Eleventh Hour will contact Rockaway Borough police to report the fraud, and that another volunteer is reaching out to the FBI.

Appealing for help

Parente said Eleventh Hour, thinking it had $10,000 prior to the unseemly revelations, spent about $7,000 on spaying and neutering 11 dogs, and making sure all had the proper shots.

She said she is appealing to the public for help, and also trying to warn them.

“We want to make sure that other nonprofits are aware of this situation,” she said. “According to bank officers this is a rampant scam. … Not only are we appealing to the public for help at this time, we don’t want any nonprofits or elderly people (scammed).”