By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia man has pleaded guilty in federal court to a series of Internet scams targeting victims across the U.S. And the local defendant played a key role in the case for accomplices overseas. Victims, who lost about $100,000, were pressed to act quickly.
The schemes varied, but generally fake job offers or purchase deals resulted in victims getting what turned out to be counterfeit checks or money orders, but instructions to forward part of the funds to the local defendant, before the checks or money orders cleared.
“Most of these people are told they have to do these jobs in a day or two,” says federal prosecutor Mark Dubnoff. “And you should always be very skeptical, especially dealing with people you never met before, dealing with people over the internet.”
And, Dubnoff says beware an urgency to act. “Yeah, you really just have to have that innate skepticism. I mean, one of the things they could do is wait several days until your bank clears the money orders before you send the money along.”
Dubnoff says the overseas contacts used the local defendant to make the victims less suspicious. “It makes the scam seem more legitimate. It makes it seem like, ‘oh, this person is in Philadelphia, he’s got a real address. He must be a legitimate business person.'”
But, Dubnoff says defendant Dave Brister was just a middle man — a conduit for the funds. He took a share but shipped most of the money overseas.