True Crime Thursday – Employment Scam

by Debbie Burke



Photo purchased from Shutterstock by Debbie Burke

You thought you’d found a home-based job to earn extra income. Instead, you became the unwitting participant in money laundering.

Today’s True Crime is a sneaky scam that the Better Business Bureau reports is sweeping the country.  It recently hit a man in my small home town of Kalispell, Montana. Here’s his story.




Debbie Burke regularly launders money when she throws jeans in the washer w/o checking pockets. Her thriller Instrument of the Devil is on sale during April for only 99 cents. Here’s the link.

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About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes the Tawny Lindholm series, Montana thrillers infused with psychological suspense. Her books have won the Kindle Scout contest, the Zebulon Award, and were finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and Her articles received journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers.

14 thoughts on “True Crime Thursday – Employment Scam

  1. Ugh. So many scams around lately. Unfortunately, it’s a lucrative “business.” The digital world can be a frightening place if we’re not careful. Thanks for the tip, Debbie!

    • Yup, Sue. Lucrative, anonymous, and hard to trace–the net is a criminal’s dream come true.

      KInda makes me long for the old days when all you had to worry about was a guy in a ski mask with a crowbar.

  2. My goodness, poor Mr. Helding. Crooks suck. One of the good things about being a writer is you can always catch and punish the bad guys. (If you want to!)

    • Priscilla, you are so right–justice in fiction is satisfying to both the writer and the reader.

      Thanks for highlighting one of the enduring appeals of crime fiction.

  3. I feel bad for the guy, and no one should go through this, but why didn’t any red flags pop up in this guy’s head. The transaction, as described, would not be considered normal.

    $72K for buying/selling when you have no previous experience as a buyer negotiating contracts – red flag.

    Primarily shipping overseas – red flag

    Purchasing at Best Buy, which has already marked up the product, and then shipping it – red flag.

    Best Buy purchases from distributers, which is what this company would have done if it were legitimate. The man said he did his homework…but I don’t think he thought it through.

    Like I said, I feel bad for the guy, but if it walks like a duck…

    • Mike, sad but true. Unfortunately a professional-looking website and apparently legitimate credentials fool many people. When in doubt, it’s easy to run a search for the company’s name coupled with “scam,” “fraud,” “complaints.” Often they’ll pop up on BBB or other consumer protection sites.

      Which reminds me to give a shout out to Writer Beware:
      They highlight schemes that specifically target writers.

    • Seems like the reddest flag would have been when he was asked to use his own credit card. An expensive lesson, but a good one.

      Such a shame that people who are the most trusting are the easiest targets for criminals.

  4. In 2008, I received the funniest email scam ever. A letter from the Pulitzer Prize committee that I’d been nominated as a Literature finalist. But I needed to send money to Nigeria to finish the registration. Best laugh I had that year.

  5. Poor guy. Anyone who preys on folks seeking work is a worm. This tops those “mystery shopper” scams where you have to buy a $45 “instruction book.” You shouldn’t have to pay to work.

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