FBI warns about schemes as Norfolk businessman speaks out about being potential victim

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The FBI has an important warning:  Be cautious of scams.

News 3 met up with a Norfolk businessman who was a potential victim.

About two weeks ago, priority mail arrived at the Getem Services Termite and Pest Control office in Norfolk.

“The check looked real and looked really legitimate,” said Charlie Church.

The mail contained a check for more than $2,900 addressed to Church, along with a letter with instructions to get gift cards and evaluate stores.

“I got a text on the same day asking me if the package had arrived,” Church said.

Then the text messages started to escalate. Below is what was sent to Church:

"Good morning Charlie. Please we would like to confirm if you have received your package by now?"

"Hello, how are you doing today, what is the status of your first survey assignment? Thank you."

"Good morning, Please we would like to confirm if you have received your package by now? Thank you."

"Good morning, Please we would like to confirm if you have received your package by now? Thank you."

"Good day, how is your day going, please what is the status of your fist survey assignment? You need to get back to us as soon as possible.. Thank you."

"Good morning, What is the status of your task?"

"I want you to know that you have been reported to the FBI. I have forwarded your details and home address to the FBI for further Investigation. We entrusted you with our Money that was sent to you through USPS and now I haven’t hear from you since the payment has been delivered to your location. I await your response within 24hrs before the FBI action is taken against you."

“I couldn’t believe it. I kept getting texts, and this went on for two weeks,” Church said.

Wednesday, News 3 sat down with local leaders from the FBI Norfolk Field Office to talk about this scheme and others plaguing the community.

Supervisory Special Agent Michael McMahon said the text messages, coinciding with the arrival of the package at Church’s business, were an attempt by the schemers to add to the level of legitimacy of the information they sent to victims.

“Local victims have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to these kinds of schemes, and it is heartbreaking,” McMahon said.

He said there is no way to get the money back unless the FBI is contacted very soon after a bank transaction.

He said con artists typically obtain victims’ cell phone numbers and addresses by buying information.

The FBI is taking action to protect the public and aiming to reduce the number of people who fall victim to the scheme.

“We are trying to educate our communities, so we are participating in outreach events and community awareness events over the next year,” said Assistant Special Agent Will Rivers.

They said too many people are losing money to these kinds of schemes.

“I think they have to be more aware of all the different types of schemes that are out there and more protective of themselves,” said Rivers.

Church wasn’t one of those victims, but he wanted to speak out and warn others in hopes of preventing another case for the FBI.

“I’ve been doing this job a long time. Since the day I got started, we were seeing victims of fraud schemes,” McMahon said.

Click here or call 800-CALL-FBI to file a complaint with the FBI.