Not only was a 25-year-old Darien woman taken in by an internet scam perpetrated by someone who offered her a dog-walking job, but the person she sent the money to also appears to have been taken in.
The Darien woman was recently contacted over the Internet and asked if she would like to do the dog walking. As is typical in these scams, the thief offered to send a larger amount of money than the woman would be getting as payment. The woman was to then send the extra money, minus a fee for her dog-walking and money-transferring services, to another account.
The woman found the check was deposited, immediately transferred some of it out of her account to another account — and, true to form in these scams, her bank later told her the check they received had bounced. The bounced check was for $3,500 and, as agreed, she had transferred $3,100 — leaving her out $400.
Darien police say this has happened before in Darien, and many times elsewhere. It’s likely to happen many times again. Police say that whenever someone you don’t know offers to send you money in return for you keeping part of it and sending on the rest, you’re liable to be scammed just the way this woman was — so don’t do it.
At least she never had to walk any dogs.
On Nov. 10, she reported the matter to Darien police, and here’s where the twist comes: The woman was told that a Richard DeAugustine was the person who contacted her. The Wells Fargo bank account where she transferred the money does, in fact, belong to a Richard DeAugustine, a Texas resident.
Darien police contacted DeAugustine and police in Texas. He said that he had received the money and has been regularly receiving money from a “Michelle” with whom he had an ongoing online relationship exchanging texts and emails. He had never met her in person, and he can’t actually prove that she exists.
After knowing her online for a while, she had told him she had an antique business, and she traveled the world looking for antiques. Since she was gone so much, she asked him if he’d be willing to accept payments from her customers. He had agreed, and has been accepting the payments for quite some time.
He told police that he now realizes that he may have been scammed, as well, and he agreed to pay the Darien woman the money she’d lost.