How to try to avoid scams and fraud

Examples of Scams

1.They insist that they send you a check of a much higher value than what you had asked for the homestay fee and ask you to wire the balance via money transfer service. The cashier's check is, of course, fake.

2.They might mention their mother or father had died or some other sort of pitiful story.

3.They never give you any exact arrival date or the name of the school in which they are registered.

If you received any of these kinds of emails from someone, please don't contact them any further or give out any financial information such as a bank account number. They are trying to scam you.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

Federal Trade Commission
Internet Fraud Complaint Center
Your local police department

Here are several examples of a scam emails sent to HomestayWeb host members

The Overpayment Scam.

They always want to pay up front for 2-3 months and someone will call you from Canada to discuss where to send the money, it will be a cashiers check so the bank will take it but has to be cleared, in the mean time they call and say things have gotten bad and they need the extra money sent back to them which was over paid, you send them the money and then find out the cashiers check was not real, because it comes from out of this country it does take longer to clear, my daughter got caught up in this, but she never cashed the check, she held onto it, when the person called to get the extra money back she told them she still had the check and would send it back or shred it. they didn't like that at all.


"A worker for the Holocaust Education Trust in the U.K., residing in London but currently on a business trip to Kenya. He said he was coming to my country (Canada) and was looking for a room. To jump ahead, he has sent me a cheque and said to cash it and send some money back from this to his "cashier" who would be shipping his car and other belongings. It did not make sense at all -- shipping a car across continents costs more than $3000, and takes much longer than a week! After I told him that I was unable to accomodate him due to someone else taking the room, he said that to cash the cheque, and that he would come to pick it up on the date."


And another example, "I also received an email before from someone claiming to be a young woman in Africa, born in Florida, mother deceased when she was still a child, looking to rent a room. Her story got me emotionally. But then, I received another email, the exact same content, from a woman by a different name. I sent emails to both of them, asking them to clarify -- and have not heard back since."


Another example, "They wanted my bank account details to deposit the first months rent into it. However I didn't pass this information on because the person wasn't prepared to give me any details that could be checked about herself. I agree we must be cautious."


Example, "I have also received many similar emails from a number of different names asking if we take credit card, this scam involves sending them money to an account that would be in excess of the amount paid to us by a fraudulent Credit Card. They ask if we can pay for some (ficticous) third party service, such as Car Hire, etc.,"


Example, "I have seen many of these scams. ANY offer to pay more than the fee you ask, and ask you to deduct your part, then pay the balance to the client is a scam. It relies on the fact that a cheque can be cancelled up to several weeks after it "clears." This is not well known.

So you pay in the cheque, deduct your fee, send the balance out.
Normally the amount you pay in is 4 or 5 times greater than your fee.
They then cancel the cheque.
Net result you pay out a large amount, about 4 times as much as you were expecting to get paid.

You can try to avoid problems by making a clear statement in your first reply that you DO NOT ACCEPT any payment for a larger amount than you specify. Alternatively this may be possible if a period of six weeks is allowed to clear the cheque, and your bank confirms in writing that the money has definitely cleared, before you make any refund.

I have found though that they take no notice and you still get pestered. I have found NO offer to be genuine where there is mention of a large amount to be paid, then a refund made by you."


A SCAM perpetrated on a homestay host, using Western Union.

Scammer says her daughter is ready to start language school in host's city and needs to stay with a good family ("God has help me to rise her up in His way so she is a nice girl and you will love her I promise you").

Scammer's cousin who lives another city sends a $4,500 bogus cheque to the host as upfront payment for 4 months of homestay but the sum is an overpayment (only $3,000 was payable).

Meanwhile, Scammer - alleging the sudden death of her grandmother and of being the only relative in charge of the funerals - writes that she is not in a situation right now to send money to her daughter who, presently in the USA, needs to take a flight ASAP to host's city in Canada.

Scammer asks the host to send her daughter $2,500 (from the $4,500 "upfront payment" cheque), using Western Union. Host does. The $4,500 cheque, stolen from Western Design group out of Oakville Ontario, bounces. Host loses the $2,500.


Jose, one of our host members, sent this email to other members.

I am sending you a copy of the modus operandi of the scammers please irculate it among the homestay web members.

The end goal is to get the B&B owner to send money to the scammer.
Typically, the scammer will make a booking and overpay for it with either a credit card or forged check. The scammer will request the balance sent somewhere, usually by Western Union. Remember, these scammers are creative and there are many variations on the scam.

The scam works like this:

The scammer will book a room(s) and claim to have no credit card to hold the room or will have a credit card. They will ask to send a bank draft/certified check/money order to pay for the room in advance or pay for it with a credit card. When the check arrives it will be for an amount greater than the value of the stay or they will ask you to charge the credit card for an amount greater than the value of the stay.

The scammer will then request the balance sent to a third party ( i.e. a car rental agency) or returned to the scammer.

Since the bank draft/certified check/money order is drawn on a foreign bank it may take up to 3 months to learn it is fraudulent. The B&B owner is now short the amount of the check/wire they sent the scammer and probably lost bookings since they held a room for the scammer. If the scammer paid by a credit card it is surely to be disputed by the actual card owner.

The Tells:


If you get one of these remember if it is too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel it is a legit booking request a deposit by bank transfer and insist on the balance being paid in person. Whatever happens, do not send them a check, a money gram, a wire, or bank transfer!!!

If you feel it could be legit it is probably best to rely on your instinct. Make sure you chat them up. Ask them about the attractions they plan to see or are interested in. What airport they are flying to. Who are they flying with. Will they be renting a car. And so on. But it is probably best to just ignore them.

Here is a list of known scammers. If you have any to add (scams or aliases) read the Actions you can take first.


The scammers do not use their own real name. For the most part they use made up names and made up or wrong addresses. In some cases they may assume the identity of another real legitimate person. They may also claim associations with well know organizations.

It is has been brought to our attention that we could be defaming a legitimate person or business and suggested we give out general non-specific information. We have decided to continue supplying details v. general information. If a legitimate person or business is found listed on this page then please read that as notification of identity theft. If you are that person/business please contact us to discuss how we should proceed. If you believe we have listed someone incorrectly please take the time to notify us."


From one of our members.

Over the years we have hosted several homestay students.
We received a response from a lady purporting to be "Mary Williams" in London, England, looking to place her 20 y/o daughter "Caroline" in our area. I didn't want any misunderstanding, so I repetively advised, we lived rural, away from bus route, etc..., but I'd accomodate by doing bus drop off and pick up. She repeatedly emphasized that the most important part was a good family for her daughter to stay with.

Then her friend Steve Brown was going to bring us the money, ahead of time, for all 4 months. She provided his phone number as 416-875-0179. SHe asked for my contact info and i provided name, address & phone number. This is all pretty basic stuff and I didn't see any harm with only that info. A homestay student would definitely require that kind of info. Then Mary's "grandmom" dies.... things get delayed. Her daughter will be visiting Mary's sister first, then coming to see us.

I actually received a telephone call from "Steve" looking for the amount of $$ to send me, and confirming address. On Friday, we finally received the promised payment, but a little short (they paid $2600 of the $2800 they were supposed to). The certified draft looks very real. ( A friend told me this draft would initially appear to clear my account, and my own institution would probably tell me it's a real draft. Within about 30 days it comes back NSF, and your financial institution tells you YOU'RE screwed. Even tho their own teller tells you it's clean, and it appears to clear, later when it's figured out to be a fraud, you're screwed). I kept wondering when the hook was coming. Well, the same night or next day, we got it! Caroline is in New York, and she has no $$, and needs to leave immediately. Can I wire $$ to a New York place for her, and I'll still have more than the first month's fee. I say sure, but why don't I give poor 'ol Caroline MORE $$, since she's !
so hard up. I also told Mary I'd gladly do it, as soon as she told me WHERE Caroline would be going to school, and also faxed me a copy of her Passport. She seemed to object to the passport and insists she already gave me a pic of Caroline (she hasn't). Also, I asked in 4 seperate emails for the school name. She finally responded with; "Vancouver School". I told her no such school exists.

I always was very suspicious and waiting for the hook. This type of scam can happen in MANY different ways, but there are some common threads. Sometimes, it's a foreign buyer looking to buy your item.

  1. Mary Williams emails were written by either someone clever trying to appear to be ESL, or this person is ESL. With a name like Mary Williams I would have expected someone with a clear, concise command of English. This was definitely an ESL person who did NOT speak or understand english fully.
  2. Steve Brown sounded Phillipino. Defintely an ESL aswell.
  3. Envelope from Steve Brown was typed. No return address, just "Steve Brown" in the top right corner. IF YOU sent a certified cheque for $2600, wouldn't you want to make sure it got returned to you if it didn't reach the inteneded recipient ?
  4. ANYTIME EVER someone offers for you to keep a portion of payment, or accidentally overpays you, then asks that you refund a portion...RUN!! THIS IS THE HOOK!!
  5. As this scam progressed, it never made sense that they'd want to place a student in a rural area, away from schools, just to be with a good family.
    IF your spidey-senses are tingling, there's a good reason for it. BE SUSPICIOUS. Trust your instincts.
  6. Share the info to educate others. I have a friend who was defrauded of $10-20K on the sale of an item, using certified cheque as a scam. I have another friend that does MANY homestays and placements (the friend who got us into this) , and I have notified her. She is posting it on a similar Homestay forum.
  7. I'm going to notify the RCMP commercial crime/fraud department. Not quite sure where to start, but I'll contact them and figure it out.

Fraudsters are very clever, but in the end, there are always some obvious signs, and its mostly our own greed that allows them to succeed.


Fraud email example:

I am the above named person from Kuwait. I am married to Mr Gilbert Eboni. who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars ) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspence account.

Presently,the fund is still with the bank.Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that,disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows,propagating the word of God and to endeavor that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don 't want my husband's efforts to be used by unbelievers.
I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband's relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development.. With God all things are possible.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan.I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shephard. My happiness is
that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that Wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e_mail address for more informations, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your reply.

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs Savannah Eboni.


Hello, Pls I want to confirm if you still have the room/apartment for rent, if yes,I will like to have the description of the room/apt, Payment mode.
Little about me , I am 23 years old female and I work full time,Monday to Friday and have weekends off except for once a month. I was born in Ft. Worth, Texas, I moved to just last years after the death of father Republique Du Benin ,I work in a fashion home as a designer director. I am not really a sports person, BUT I do love Basketball ,Lawn Tenis. I am a very out going person and fun to be with. I do play the organ and piano. I don't drink , smoke and I don't do drugs. I like going to movies,, concerts ,, plays, I like camping, hiking, bike ridding, swimming, and I love to travel.I am a very dedicated individual who is totally committed to human development, friendly, very trustworthy and value relationship . I am an easygoing person and like to have an apt/roommate . I am presently in Republique Du Benin and I will be moving to fully to start a new life and get my own business after 4 years of service in the fashion home in Republique Du Benin. I will be staying in your apartment for six months or a year depending on how the lease is drawn ,I will be arriving as soon as possible. I await your response as soon as possible so as to arrange for you to get the money prior for my arrival as the company client I worked for before I quit wants to arrange for the payment. As I will like to make an advance payment ahead my arrival so that you can be rest assured that this is real since I am not around.Thanks and have a good time. Regards, Mary


I am in search of a profitable Tourism investment business in Canada and I would be glad if you can assist me in any way possible alternatively, we can both go into a joint partnership investment business once we are both satisfied with agreements reached and after we get to know each other better.

Actually my intention is to invest my family's finances in Canada . Under your care and full management. I am aware of the various lucrative investment opportunities in your Country and I believe investing through you as a citizen will make it a lot easier for us. If you are interested, please get back to me and I will furnish you with further details. I will provide the finances required for the investment.

I am very confident on my decision to invest in Canada considering the fact that the amount I have can provide us with any modest Tourism investment depending on how it is managed after you receive the funds. I will wait to hear from you on your opinion before we discuss in details.

Thanks and accept my Warm Regards,

Next email goes below.

Hello xxxxxx , Thank you for your very prompt response to my proposal. Actually I understand your reason for having doubts over my proposal considering the fact that we have not met before in the past. but the fact remains that I am desperately in need of your assistance on my intended investment project in Canada . I am a 29 years old male from Belfast .and from a politically oriented family background. I am basically interested in investing my families Inheritance from my late father Sir Earl Clark who was a very active member of the IRA before his death .presently I and other members of my immediate family are living under restricted circumstances here in Northern Ireland as a result of the very hostile treatment we have been experiencing from the very influential enemies of my late father in the present Government dispensation here in Northern Ireland since early last year. My family used to own a private hostel here in Belfast many years ago and I was under the impression that with your co-operation and assistance I could set up a similar investment in Canada to ensure a safe and comfortable future for myself and immediate family. I have the intention of relocating subsequently with your assistance to Canada with my family. Let me state clearly that this is definitely not a scam I only contacted you through mail and the home stay website because of confidentiality reasons which I am very particular about considering our present situation here in Northern Ireland. Please let me have your decision on my request as only then will I be in a position to furnish you with full details of my plans. Warm Regards, Davidson.


Do not send money via western union to these people. !!!

Hello, Thanks a lot for I really appreciate your concerns about me and with this I know Paula will be happy with you. if you are a woman you will know how I feel about my daughter who's 1000's of miles away from home and the child tells you she's no longer happy where she is. I know my half sister very well and I will like Paula to move on., , Please I will really appreciate if you can send her the $3, 000 via western union to the below informations she sent to me two days ago. She said western union is just a stone throw from their home and she have a friend there who will assist her., ,

Below is the informations she sent me:,

Name: Paula Benitez, Address:14519 SANDALFOOT STREET .HOUSTON, TX 77095, USA., Sender's Names/Address:, MTCN:, Amount sent:, , With this it will be faster and she can pay her way through to your home. I will really be glad if you can send it today and forward me with the informations so I can send to her. Am very busy with gramma's funeral arrangements she means a lot to me and Paula, , Please I am counting on you to take care of her and your family she's the only person I have now since gramma is gone., Thanking you for your understanding and God bless., Have a lovely day, Paloma.


Thank you to all of the host families members that have helped to keep all of us informed of the current scams.

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