Scam Artist Target Southern Illinois Bed & Breakfast

Scam Artist Target Southern Illinois Bed & Breakfast
By: Arnold Wyrick

UNION COUNTY, IL --Here in the Heartland, hotels and resorts rely heavily upon tourist for their livelihood.  But in today's world what appears to be legitimate unfortunately isn't always the case.
The owners of the Forest View Lodge in Union County found that out the hard way.
"With the wine trail our tourist are getting more abundant.  So I'm just thinking hey they're coming to vacation, to see the winery like many  of my guests do," says Diana Kelley.
Diana thought that a woman by the name of Tracey Cohen and her husband were planning to book the bed and breakfast for 2 weeks.  And the Kelley's had corresponded with Cohen and her husband in the United Kingdom several times about their trip.
"She was writing to me just like the rest of my guest do in the emails.  I mean it was precise.  There was nothing there to make be uneasy or uncomfortable, until the check came," Kelley said.
A check drawn on the Barclay Bank in New York, for the amount of $4,300.00 dollars, nearly three thousand dollars more then the 2 week booking fee for the couples stay.
"So I contacted Tracey and she told me that her company Exxon Mobile must've sent her entire travel expenses to me.  And she asked if I could please send back the difference of the booking fee and the amount of the check, to her travel agent in the United Kingdom," Diana said.
But the unusual request and the incorrect amount of the check sparked suspicion in Diana, and her family.
" I told my mom about it, and she said it was scam.  I was getting ready to call London, and the Bank of Anna was kind enough to call me and tell it was fraudulent.  I immediately called up Western Union and told them to reverse the transfer, because I had already sent this person the money," Kelley said.
The Kelley's were able to stop the transfer, but they still lost $135 in fees for the initial wiring of the funds, and the cancellation of the transaction.  They've also learned a very important about doing business internationally.
"I don't consider myself easily scammed.  But this looked legitimate, and all the paperwork looked authentic.  I didn't ever dream it would be a scam, the way they went about doing it," Diana said.
The Kelley's have turned all of their correspondence with the phony couple, and the bogus check over to the FBI to be investigated.