This is a scam that was attempted on me. Of course, I did not fall for it. I contacted my web person, who told me it was a well-known scam, explained to me how it is done, and informed me how I can report it to the authorities, in order to help other therapists that may be targeted by this person or persons.

This is the story. As you can see, it started very convincingly...

The first email that I received asked for the following: Available date, issues that I work on, my speciality, my location, and my experience. This is very common for me to receive, and usually indicates a client that is eager to improve themselves. This person certainly is keen to improve his life, but not in the way that I had first thought!

Next, I structured a response and hit Reply. Three days later, the person replied, saying that his enquiry is for his daughter, who would be visiting the country the month after, and for whom he would like therapy. I explained what I do, asked the essential questions that would inform me if the daughter is contra-indicated for what I offer, asked about her age, and asked for specifically what she had been diagnosed with that she needs help with. In other words, I was doing my job and taking due diligence. All normal so far. Unless you find a pattern where information is fed to you structured around your answers. Still, I have declined entertaining other email enquiries before in the past, only to find out that the enquirer was genuine and desperately needed my help. In other words, sometimes you have to look at everyone as innocent, because not to do so may prolong their distress unnecessarily, as they await being seen.

The emails went back and forth, verifying the daughter was not a minor, had no contra-indications, and what areas I worked from. Then finally, the person came back to me wanting the address for his client to send a cheque to. I replied that I do not normally accept cheques and asking for payment by PayPal, or if necessary, card by phone. I gave my phone number and times I was available to call. I was fully expecting this concerned father to contact me by phone to discuss his daughter's needs further and check me out. It was also strange that his client was paying for his daughter. But then again, he had bad English, and I have helped many genuine clients with this strange start, so I thought nothing of it. But it was a weird sign.

After replying with my mailing address, I heard nothing for about 5 days and just assumed that he did not like the location and decided to go elsewhere. But this is apparently another trick. They almost take the opportunity away, to keep you so eager to service them, that assumed need for money would outweigh caution.

Finally, I got an email saying that a cheque had been sent to me by the person's customer. Oh, and thanking me for the slight inconvenience. This slight inconvenience was an error on his customer's part, who had written one cheque instead of two. He was supposed to write one cheque to go to his daughter's "guardian" during her travels, in order to pay for her travel. Hang on a minute, I thought, a return ticket would have been bought in advance. The other cheque was meant for my fees, seeing his "daughter" twice a week for 4 weeks. I was to take a small amount extra for my troubles (pandering to need or greed) and after the cheque clears (clearing in time was a concern I had expressed before), I was to send a cheque with the remaining funds to the guardian. Oh yes, then the typical scam sentence: "Hope I can trust you with the remainder of money?"...

I replied that it was illegal and I wanted my fees to be separately sent. No doubt I will hear again with some crazy excuse and another attempt.

Upon asking for help, I was informed that this scam is a very old one. They send you a stolen or forged cheque. This cheque actually seems to clear, and the funds appear in your bank as normal, if you unwittingly break the law by putting it into your account. Seeing the amount cleared in your account, you then send the excess to the person for whom it was intended. This may be an accomplice or your enquirer themselves, in your country. They then manage to cash your cheque, after which your bank is informed that the perpetrators' cheque is bogus, and the money disappears from your account.

Sadly, this was not a victimless crime. I spent many hours writing back in simple language, making sure I did everything I could for this youngster to be trusted into my care. I also declined seeing genuine clients on some days "she" was due to be with me. I do not normally do this. I usually operate a money-upfront policy in these cases. But she was suffering from "PTSD", and the therapist in me so wanted to help.

I hope this helps you or someone you know to stay safe from cyber crime. If in doubt, ask your website person or your local Police online crime investigation unit. I know I will always want to help others. Only next time, I will say flat-out no to cheques and insist on PayPal payment from any unusual source, as is my normal policy.

Author's Bio: 

© Suzanne Zacharia 2016, passionately spreading the healing news for health, happiness, and success, online and in-person. Want to use this article? You can, as long as you credit me with it and invite your readers to get our therapy business development 18-week online program at