Beware of scams directed to tour guides

Colleagues,

This post is to provide insight into fraudulent attempts, via the internet, to scam tour guides. Of course, do continue to receive, communicate with, and accept contract work with individuals requesting your tour guiding service via the internet, but be cautious. Look for red flags that give you concern that the pending project may be a scam.

Some of you may have read my November 24 post to the LVTGG Facebook page suggesting that members and colleagues do not communicate, contract or accept funds to provide service to Mr. Ranger.

I communicate by email with many prospects who submit inquiries to my websites. On occasion I am asked if I will accept credit card payments in excess of my service fee, then return the excess deposit by check. I inform the prospect that I do not accept credit cards, and if I did I would only accept the amount of my service.

Some weeks ago I received a request for service in November. A range of dates was furnished by the prospect during his extended stay in Las Vegas. We agreed on two full days of touring with the prospect and his three quests. By email I provided suggested itineraries, my rate, a list of client responsibilities, and instruction to mail me a non-refundable deposit.

Everything proceeded without concern until I received a Priority Mail envelope containing only a cashier check. There was no note explaining who sent the envelope, and the check. I researched my pending project proposal file, but could not match the amount of the check with any correspondence. I researched emails received while I was traveling, and found correspondence that matched a prospect name in my pending project proposal file.

I emailed the prospect and acknowledged that I received the deposit he cited in earlier correspondence. He proceeded to explain why the envelope contained a cashier check greater than the amount I requested. He related that he instructed an individual to go to the bank and purchase two cashier checks, one in the amount of our contract for two full day tours, and another for $XXXX.XX. I was told the individual made a mistake and purchased one cashier check in the amount of the $XXXX.XX and mailed it to me.

The prospect requested me to deposit the cashier check, then send a check, excluding my contract service fee plus $50 to cover shipping, to a sibling via FedEx. I informed the prospect that I will return his cashier check, and he can pay me cash on the first day of his scheduled tour. He again requested me to deposit the check, insisting that it would clear within a couple days and I could then send money to his sibling. I informed the prospect that I would not send money to anyone until the check cleared my bank.

I deposited the cashier check, and four days later I received notice from my bank that the check was not negotiable, and that they adjusted my bank account accordingly, plus a return check fee. Immediately I emailed the prospect, notified him that the cashier check was not negotiable; that I would confer with the Attorney General of the State of Nevada; and that I would not be at the designated hotel on the day agreed to provide tour guiding service to him and his guests. I did not receive a reply to my email.

I have since learned that software is available for anyone to print cashier checks. I, and I presume many others, have believed that cashier checks are negotiable because they are issued after cash is delivered to a bank teller. Question, if cashier checks can be printed, can the same be true for money orders? Discussion with a bank employee suggests that Western Union or a bank Transfer of Funds (domestic or international) may be a safer route.

Please exercise caution. The majority of contacts received via the internet are legitimate. Remain professional in all communication. If you become concerned, it may be best to inform the prospect that you have a conflict and are no longer available to provide service.

Art Chesmore, CPTG

 

 

 

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