Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lost Property Scam - Money Finders

Recently a group called Money Finders sent my husband Leo a form letter demanding payment for helping him find lost property. The letter claimed that he had signed a contract, that they had located $798.00 for him, and that as a result he owed $79.80. This was his FINAL NOTICE, and if he didn't pay up they would take him to collection and inform the major credit bureaus.

His name, slightly misspelled, was pasted into the letter, which contained some odd grammatical errors ("Please find whom initiated the agreement"). I could find no company website, and the return email address was a hotmail account. These are pretty good signs that a letter is a scam.

Of course Leo knew nothing about any contract. He would have been happy just to throw the letter away, but I was curious. I called the number enclosed in the letter, only to be referred to email. I emailed accountingdep@hotmail.com asking for a copy of the original signed contract. Then I looked up the address of Money Finders, 67 Serenity Court, Franklinville, NJ 08322. I learned that this address has been associated with many different phone numbers and complaints of scams.

To my surprise, the Money Finders folks emailed back, offering to fax the contract if I'd send them a fax number. I responded asking them to scan and email the contract instead, and they responded that they would post it by US mail.

Finally I emailed the writer asking for his name and title and the company's federal tax ID#. I have repeated this request several times with no response.

A few days later I received the "contract" in the mail. Although it was undated, I remembered it from a few years ago. Headed "Account Recovery," it stated in official sounding language that property belonging to Leo had been located and would be returned to him if he signed below and returned the form. There was no mention of a finder's fee. Leo was convinced even then that it was a scam, but seeing no downside I had him sign it anyway and sent it off. The bill,years later, was the only response.

Having received this "contract", I wrote the following email to the sender:

Thank you for the new material you have sent. Unfortunately, it is not a contract. Nowhere on the sheet is there any notice that recovery of the funds will cost money; nor were any funds delivered. Please consider this matter closed.


At this point, all pretense was dropped. Here is the email I received in response:

i guess you dont see the words a 10% fee will be due once you receive your money, people like you amuse you, you scream and holler that nothing was signed than i send and you bla bla me...it will been forwarded to collection on the 1st, i dont care regardless what you do, you obviously are classless and i hope you enjoy be called by collectors and affecting the credit rating


Very businesslike, don't you think?

At this point I filed a mail fraud complaint with the US Postal Service. Perhaps the Postal Service will investigate and prevent more gullible people from being intimidated. Still, I must say, I'm curious about how such a slow and small potatoes scam can succeed.

By the way, this correspondence did inspire me to check for unclaimed property in three states where I've lived. This is easy to do by searching the state government website for "unclaimed property." I found nothing owed me, but did find property including insurance refunds and stock dividends owing to a brother, two sisters, my husband, and both my now-deceased parents. It's worth a look.

20 comments:

jodel said...

Your brother is in Virginia so I checked this out and found two items for him. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I also received a bill, then another bill, then a FINAL NOTICE from Money Finders and have chosen to ignore them. Do you know whether they have ever carried through on the threat to send it to a collection agency?
David

Penny said...

I have no evidence that they took me to collection. How could they? We never had a contract of any kind. It's almost a month since the date of the threat, and I've received no calls, letters, or messages from ay collection agency. My advice? Report the fraud, then forget it.

Penny said...

I'm always glad when I see hits on this post, because I figure it means someone has been saved from this scam. I want to update my last post. Some 8 months after this post, I got a notice from a collection agency in California. I researched the agency and found they had just started up. I called them and asked for their tax ID number, which they promised to send and never did. I also acted as if they were well-meaning, by warning them that Money Finders was a fraudulent organization. (They sent me the same letter I had received before, and I patiently pointed out it was not a contract and I had never agreed to pay anything.) I strongly suggested that they sever ties with this company.

A short time later I got two nasty crank calls (hang-up calls) and two nasty comments on this post (which I never posted, because I screen comments-- just screening out the obscene or off topic).
Just after that, I got a letter from the collection agency saying the case was closed.

Don't give in to bullies.

Anonymous said...

I just had a similar experience. A woman called me saying Money Finders had helped me locate money and I owed them $45.00. I do remember back in 1998 or so getting a letter from them about a check I had not cashed. This part was true - I had lost the check. They sent me some weird and complicated paperwork to fill out, in the same sort of unprofessional, poorly worded, cut and paste sort of letter - and I thought that this was a scam and never followed through. I believe I got a couple more letters from them now saying I owed them money. Now - over 10 years later, I get a call threatening that if I don't pay the finder's fee it will affect my credit rating. The woman on the phone was quite insistent, yet she would not give me any contact information for Money Finders (she said I could look them up on line - and I found your post!). I think your advice is good - it's best to ignore them. I guess they do manage to bully some people into paying up or the operation would have dried up by now.

Anonymous said...

One of my students received a scam letter from Money Finders recently claiming they had unclaimed funds from her deceased uncle. Same address and hotmail account as referenced in earlier posts. She is an ESL student and wasn't sure what it meant, so I told her I'd look into it but was pretty sure it was a scam. Guess I was right. Sorry you folks had the displeasure of dealing with these people, but very glad to find your experiences and confirm my suspicions.

Anonymous said...

I just received a letter today - same hotmail address and same physical address with my father's name on it, who has been deceased for 4 years. Thanks for posting about this scam. It saved me alot of time!

Penny said...

I'm really glad to know people are still benefitting from this particular post. There's not too much we can do to protect each other except share information!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your work on this. I received a mailing from them today, directed to my aunt who has Parkinson's and dementia. If I wasn't here she is at the point where she would have fallen for the scam. What was interested was the envelope was not typed but hand written in the worst penmanship I have ever seen. This alone alerted me and the next thing I did was goggle and your site was listed first. Again your work and posting saved a lot of searching on my part and care taking is already a full time job.

Anonymous said...

And another - my housekeeper who's English is a second language received the same letter from Money Finders that they probably call a "contract", requesting they fill out information and send it back. Given how unprofessional looking it was I was very skeptical and came across your post. I'll help her look in the state records instead. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just to keep you all updated, it's still going on. Received a letter yesterday from the Serenity Court address in NJ. Thanks for keeping this current for posting originally.

Anonymous said...

May 29, 2013
Just received the same notice in CT. The info is just close enough to make me curious. Thanks to you folks I'm just turning this letter over to my Postmaster and forgetting about it.
Thank you,
Almost a Victim

Anonymous said...

Another CT letter to my work. Thanks for the expose. You saved me a lot of trouble.

D in Westport

jim gross said...

thanks for posting. i just got one of these letters and your info just saved me a lot of time and grief. many thanks!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info. just got one of these notices and your posts have saved me a lot of time and grief.

Microsoft hotmail helpline number said...

Nice blog,thanks for sharing the information

Anonymous said...

I had received a similar letter in the mail saying I will be receiving 37809.71 from Mutual of America Death Benefits due Beneficiary. Have been trying to call and get nobody. I felt this was a scam considering money like that does not just drop in my lap. Usually stuff like that comes to me I don't find it. Anyway I looked up this website and read your post thank you for reassuring me that it is a scam.

Anonymous said...

My name is Bob Armstrong and I am the owner of Money Finders. I have been in communication with the author of this blog, Penny via a personal phone call and emails because this blog recently came to my attention.

The facts are. I sent her husband a contract, which he signed and faxed back from his place of employment. Then, forwarded him the claim form to recover the money. After the recover, for whatever reason, they decided not pay the commission.
I then attempted to contact them and sent them an email, which I am not proud of and if I could take back I would. Leo never did pay nor did I pursue this any further until someone contacted me and pointed this blog out which i believe, unfairly pinpoints me as a scam organization.

Since that time, I have sent Penny the following.
1. The contract
In our phone call she indicated she never received it but her blog points out that it does.
2. My federal tax ID #
3. My business registartion showing I have been operating leagally for many years and am registered with my local Government.
4. Letters that I submitted to the BBB, Postmaster General and FBI Cyper Task Force for an unrelated scam associated with my address and communications I have with the victims showing my assistance in trying to help them.

Anyone who has any concerns, about my business or business practices, send me an email and I will reply promptly and I woud send the same documents to you. Please keep in mind, to keep costs low, I USE MY HOME ADDRESS AND CONDUCT BUSINESS FROM MY HOME. IT IS NOT HARD FOR ANYONE TO FIND ME, INCLUDING THE AUTHORITIES. IF I WAS SCAMMING ANYONE, SOMEONECAN COME KNOCKING ON MY DOOR.

john said...

This company is currently contacting me, telling me I owe money that I did actually find and cash in. I don't remember their Assistance, but don't want to risk their lawyer fees and legal ramifications. I keep asking for a copy of our contract and that I would then pay through a third party their fee. I'm a rule follower by all standards. Any advice??

Penny said...

John, you do not owe any money. You didn't sign anything. You had no contract with MoneyFinders. Bob Armstrong's stance is that if he sent you a notice and you at some later point recovered money, it's because of his advice and you owe him a percentage whether you signed anything or not. That's silly. It's as if someone told you you dropped a dollar and then when you pick it up demands you give him part of it. Or better yet, you pick up a dollar you dropped and then someone comes along and says, "You picked that up because of my advice. Now you owe me money!"

My opinion is that you may get some blustering emails or even calls, but no lawyer would ever take on a case against you. For one thing, there's no basis for a case. For another, there's not enough money in it to pay a lawyer's fee.

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