Friday March 7, 2014
American Express 'Serve' Card Scam Deceives Customers With Bogus Craigslist AdTim King Salem-News.com
Good luck getting through to a live person from American Express in the U.S. - their employees live in India.
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - All over the U.S. in recent weeks, a Craigslist ad in the help wanted section under TV/Film Jobs, contained an extremely elaborate ad that appears to be a scam, with the single goal of conning job seekers into applying for a new American Express 'serve' card. This is, from what I understand, similar to a 'PayPal' card - a debit card frequently used in online transactions.
As far as trying to get an answer from American Express or 'serve', good luck. I went round and round with a 'serve' employee in India who could not do so much as put me on the line with a supervisor, or provide a number for their corporate office in the states... nothing. His answer was for me to go back to their Website, and there he explained, I could find a complaint form. However I had spent a good deal of time on that site already, and was looking for more than an email address, I wanted to notify the company about this ad, but was unable to.
Of course informing the California Attorney General's Office of the matter was another victory-free pursuit; absolutely nowhere could this 20+ year reporter locate a method to raise a live person. Nope, totally automated.
Craigslist... I didn't even bother, knowing it would be more of the same.
So my answer instead, is to write this article which hopefully will open a few eyes though I doubt it will build confidence in anyone about this 'system' where even the 1% get super sloppy.
Corporate America, the government; they are all out to lunch and obviously just too busy to even provide the slightest option for personal contact. I wonder what the percentage of people in this state who never turn anything in is... due to the complexity of reporting fraud.
As mentioned, 'serve' is a new product by American Express, a company many have done business with over the years. It is not surprising that this rings of scam as the parent company has been losing steam for some time, in cases losing customers who held one of their cards for the better part of 40 years.
In fact a gentleman who prefers that I not use his name, experienced a real horror story recently when American Express lowered his credit limit without notice, while he was out of town on business. The shocking, "sir your card was rejected" line was delivered in front of extremely important business clients. There seems little doubt that this was a damaging event to the credibility of the person trying to make a positive impression to close an important business transaction.
The 'serve scam' seems ridiculous, preying on job seekers. Perhaps it is the industry they are involved in, the perception being that anyone involved in movies probably has money and would make a good 'customer' for this less-than-fantastic rip-off with plastic. I want to be clear that I do not know that the serve division of American Express is directly involved with this scam or guilty per se, however a quick trip down the money trail leads in only one direction.
But I am a fool, it did not occur to me that I was being scammed into applying for a credit card and nothing more, not until I received a positive job offer and contract from the alleged producer who claimed to be shooting a 'zombie' movie in Sacramento. His explanation about the card, was that we - those hired for this five-day shoot, would be paid electronically, it seemed simple enough. But then I Googled the name of the producer, and quickly realized that this person did not exist, other than in Facebook discussions, where people all over the country had the same experience that I did, only they apparently figured it out more quickly.
Because it should be disclosed, I am including below the full reply I received:
This letter confirms agreement that you will take the part of in the film "Beyond the darkness". This is the working title and the final name of the film may change. As you know, this is a low budget production and we are keen to ensure that everyone understands the basis upon which the Film is being made. If there is anything about this letter that you do not understand or you wish us to clarify, please do not hesitate to contact us.
· We will be coming to your area for a shoot (Jan. 15th - 20th 2013) for a motion picture production.
· We are not to disclose the script or more details concerning the shoot until when we believe it is safe to do so, this is due to piracy, if you are not comfortable working with us this way pls do not bother to respond to this email message.
· You agree to be available to work during the filming period (“the Shoot”) from (Jan. 15th - 20th 2013).
· You agree to give over any rights you may have in the finished film to Herlinda films. This will allow us to distribute the film in any and every way we can.
· We will aim to ensure that working days are not longer than 10 hours.
· We will do our best to ensure your health, safety and welfare during the shoot.
· We will have public liability insurance to cover you during the shoot.
· We will provide you with food and refreshments throughout the shoot. We will liaise with you over your travel arrangements to and from the sand either provide transport or pay travel expenses which we need to agree in advance.
· We will need you to be there in person and be really ready to work.
HERE IS OUR CONTRACT OFFER:
- Salary ($300 per day)
- Free Accommodation,
- Transportation allowance.
Interested applicants guarantee that:
1. To be available for the shoot between Jan. 15th - 20th 2013.
2. To participate in a total HOURS of Work and/or technical assistance, otherwise stated prior to the shoot.
3. To be loyal and be ready to work on set with the crew.
We will send your payment for the first day and Transportation allowance to the location immediately you accept the offer. The Location will be disclosed as soon as we finalize all necessary procedure.
Only interested applicants should pls reply to this message, we have limited vacancy for this job as there are a lot of talents around.
IMPORTANT: Sponsor for this production has agreed to send out payment prior the shoot date so as to facilitate workers to be versatile and be ready for the job, we have been aware of other production outfit that use this form of motivation, so we have decided to make payment through a secure means, rather than sending check
Shoot starts Jan. 15th - 20th 2013
I am putting to your notice that the payment is ready. The Sponsor will send you an overpayment (For example if they send $1500, you will deduct $350 and send the remaining balance to an address we will provide). This payment will cover your first day of work ($300) and transportation allowance ($50). ALL PAYMENT SHALL BE MADE STRICTLY THROUGH www.serve.com
The remaining funds will be used for the necessary payment required to make the shoot/production a success, secure the location, costume, and rights which will be paid by the Production supervisor.
we have decided to USE THIS MEANS BECAUSE the Production supervisor travels around a lot and it’s hard for him to receive payment cause of his unstable location and that was why we have decided to add his fee to your payment so that you can send it to him as soon as you have your own payment (PLEASE TAKE NOTE).
NOTE: We are a new Production company, we are working on our website and a lot of other things...We have dreams and aspire to hit Hollywood big time!!! But life is a hurdle, we are taking one step at a time, we hope you are ready to achieve and live the Hollywood dream with us.
If you accept this offer, send in the following information:
Zipcode and state:
Post you are interested in:
Apply for the www.serve.com card and get back to me as soon as the card gets to you, so we can start work fully.
By sending your info, you are CONFIRMING that you are interested in this offer; we shall make arrangements for your payments and notify you when it is sent.
Note: production starts on Jan. 15th - 20th 2013, Location will be disclosed by few days to the first day of production.
Thanks for your time.
In closing, I do not see a single purpose in this ruse beyond being tricked into applying for a 'serve' card.
I noted a slogan on the Website that I took the above image from, it is:
The only word I agree with, is "load". The $1500 would have been great for buying Christmas presents.
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu
In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.
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