Philly Man Pleads Guilty in ‘Secret Shopper’ Scams

Dave Brister pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy for his role in scams conducted on Craiglist.

Dave Brister had a pretty good scam going. He and associates, many overseas, would pull the old counterfeit check scheme — sending people fake checks, asking them to deposit them into banks, then getting the victims to wire him the money. The checks would eventually bounce, leaving the victims on the hook.

The scam eventually caught up with him.

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Tribune reports, Brister pleaded guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, check fraud and possibly other types of fraud, too. (Catfishing?)


The Trib explains one such scam:

In one scam, Brister and his co-conspirators posted advertisements on the website Craigslist.com for fake jobs, which included phony positions such as “secret shoppers” and “administrative assistants.” The instructions generally involved depositing the checks or money orders into their own bank accounts, keeping a portion as their “salary,” performing some simple task, and sending the rest of the money to Brister via Western Union or MoneyGram.

Only after wiring the funds to Brister did the would-be employees learn that the checks and money orders they had deposited into their bank accounts were counterfeit.

In a release last year, the Justice Department further explained a similar scam:

In a different scheme, an alleged co-conspirator of Brister’s would respond to advertisements on Craigslist.com for the sale of merchandise, agree to buy the advertised item, send counterfeit checks or money orders to the seller in excess of the sales price, and indicate that the difference was to be spent on a third-party delivery company. Brister’s co-conspirator would identify Brister as the representative of the third-party delivery company and ask the seller to deposit the check or money order into his account, keep enough to cover both the sales price and a little bonus, and then wire the rest to Brister. As with the fake job-offer scheme, the sellers followed the instructions and wired thousands of dollars to Brister, only to learn that the monetary instruments they had received were counterfeit, and their bank accounts had been debited.

A federal prosecutor told KYW 1060 Brister was just a middleman for the scam, sending most of the money overseas. Don't fall victim to these things, people!

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