It has come to the attention of NAADAC that a serious scam is being perpetrated on mental health and substance use disorder counselors in Virginia.
Emails are being sent to counselors (via Psychology Today) inquiring about marriage counseling for a couple who will be on vacation in "your city" during specific dates. The problem sounds sad and tragic, and of course, as a counselor we want to help. The "client" then informs the counselor that they will send a check for 50% of the total cost of between 10-12 sessions that will be attended during their vacation.
A "cashier's check" arrives for double the entire amount, and the counselors receive a follow up email explaining that an error was made by the client's "associate"; the associate was supposed to have sent 1/2 to client for plane ticket from Mexico to "your city". The request then is "go ahead and deposit the check into your account, and send us a refund of 1/2 the check amount via Western Union, and you have two locations near you that will process for you..." with addresses of nearby businesses that will process a money transfer.
While the "cashier's check" appears to be legitimate, at closer look there are some suspicious details. The name of the town where the "Federal Credit Union" is located is in lower case, the routing number does not have the appropriate computerized bar codes, and there is a note to customers regarding "indemnity bonds" that is not legitimate for cashier's checks. After the counselors deposit the bogus check in their bank account and transmit the money back to the client via Western Union, the check bounces. By that time, the counselors have already transmitted over $1,000 to the "client," who then had their bank account information. Within a short amount of time (days/weeks), the bank accounts of the counselors were wiped out using the information obtained from the wire transfer.
The NAADAC member and counselor who reported this scam is working with a Detective in the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Virginia State Police, as well as the Loudoun County Sheriff's office. She has also contacted Psychology Today, the National Association for Social Workers, and the media. If you have any questions, please contact NAADAC at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with this individual.
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NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, represents the professional interests of more than 95,000 addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused healthcare professionals in the United States, Canada, and abroad. NAADAC’s members are addiction counselors, educators, and other addiction-focused health care professionals, who specialize in addiction prevention, treatment, recovery support, and education. An important part of the healthcare continuum, NAADAC members, and its 47 state affiliates work to create healthier individuals, families and communities through prevention, intervention, quality treatment and recovery support.