So it has been a while since my last post, mainly because the hubby has been working full time and I have been chasing the kids around and doing all the errands by myself. But some odd happenings have taken place during my hiatus. I have two different things I want to share with you, starting with the crappy one and saving the best for last! Okay, so, I posted an ad on good ol’ Kijiji to try to get rid of some off the junk accumulating in my small place. One of the ads I posted was for a bicycle that we had bought for my son last Easter. It was pretty cool, from Fisher Price, and converted from a Tricycle to a two wheeler bicycle. Not to mention we payed about 150$ for it and it was only driven like three times. So anyways I posted an add for it asking for 50$. Well the next day I got a reply from a man saying he was interested in purchasing it and that he hoped to have a “good business relationship” with me…Okaaaaayy…
So I agreed to sell it thinking that he lived in my city, as I had posted the ad on my local kijiji site for my town. However,h e told me that he lived in Ontario and that he was going to send me a money order. I said ok, I figured that was how things were done when you are buying something from another province. He told me that he would send it via UPS and when i received the money order i was to deduct the asking price for the bike then wire transfer the remaining funds through Western Union to his “shipper”. Now things started to sound a bit sketchy but I figured that he had done this before and that it was normal because he spoke very professional, although he did keep emphasizing that i send the fund as soon as i received them.So I agreed to do so, thinking that he would only be sending a little bit of extra money, enough to cover the shipping, although now that I think back I realize that it made no sense, and why wouldn’t he send the money to his shipper himself, as opposed to trusting a stranger to do so.
After he emailed me the address of his shipper and things got even weirder because I noticed his shipper’s name was Emmanuel something rather and his address was in Tokpa, Benin…Ummmm okay…that is no where near New Brunswick, where I live OR Ontario, where the buyer supposedly lived. Yet again, I gave him the benefit of a doubt. Fast forward a few days I received an envelope delivered through UPS and the first thing I noticed was the sender’s name, which said Victor Hupe…Alarm bell went of in my head because the person I was speaking to initially claimed his name was Joseph Poole, I went onto Joseph’s email account profile to see if I could put to and two together but surprise surprise..He had NO profile info or pictures, nothing…hmmm. So I called my hubby and told him he was going to have to drive me to the bank to cash it…Then I opened it and that’s when the alarm in my head started BLARING.
The amount the money order was for was 2500.00$!!! Which is conveniently that maximum amount you can send via a money order…So I went on Google and type in Bank of Montreal Money Orders and guess what I found? Pages upon pages of stories just like mine, about people that had been send funds and asked to transfer them to a shipper or back to the sender, etc and then it turning out to be a scam and they end up having to pay their bank back the money, and even facing criminal charges.The scenarios were identical to mine, right down to the dollar amount. Once I knew for certain tat it was a scam things immediately started jumping out to me as tell tale signs something shady was up. Like the fact that the address of the sender was in Oshawa, Ontario, yet the money order was from a Bank of Montreal in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Now, you have to understand the consequences that would have happened if I had not trusted my gut instinct. I get ALL my income directly deposited into my account, money for my rent, groceries, EVERYTHING. If I would have cashed that, I would have been forced to pay back that 2500$. My monthly income isn’t even 2500$, so as soon as my money was deposited, the bank would have taken it all. I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent, feed my children, I would have probably got evicted for not paying the rent. Not to mention my bank could have closed my account or even contacted the police for fraud. All this could have happened if I hadn’t typed those words into Google and found out what I did. I emailed the guy back immediately to tell him that I WOULD NOT be sending his funds to his shipper and that if he was looking for his funds that he should contact my local police department because that was where they were. And, because I was so pissed I decided to play with him a bit, so I told him that there was an investigation underway as a result of his attempted fraud, which, by the way, I said was a federal offense and would result in incarceration. And for good measure I told him that I hoped that he hadn’t done so from his own personal computer because they are tracing his IP address as we speak, not to mention the addresses and names he provided. Funny that he never replied, he had always replied very quickly when he thought we had a deal…Hmmm..
Looking back I realize why I would appear as a good target. He was counting on me being a young girl, someone that would be very naive and easy to convince and build trust with. What he didn’t count on was me having a good head on my shoulders and a strong intuition. I saved all conversations and contact in case anything comes out of it, however, sadly the police don’t actually catch these scammer’s because of the simple fact that the internet allows you to be nearly anonymous. It takes all of five minutes to create an email address, and I have found out the most of the time the address of these “shippers” ends up being a hotel or a business, not an actual person, making them all the more difficult to track. These scammer’s are usually from underdeveloped or far flung countries. So while the chances of them being caught and convicted are slim to none, there are things that you can do to avoid a similar fate.
READ THEM, LEARN THEM AND LIVE BY THEM…SERIOUSLY! People always believe that internet scams won’t happen to them or that they cant be fool, but the truth is that some of these scams and fake documents are so well done that even bank tellers can’t tell, and by the time they realize what has happened it is often already too late…I was almost one of those people!!
- NEVER give out personal or financial information of any kind unless you are actually buying something from a business or person that you know or trust and you are POSITIVE that it is a legit source.
- If you must accept another form of payment ask to be a sent a cashier’s check for the exact amount and do not ship the items until the funds clear.
- When you can, pay with a credit card, that way you can dispute the charges if the company/person does not deliver what they have agreed to.
- Do not fall for offers of easy or free money…You know the old saying, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Do not let company’s pressure you or try to tell you it is a limited time offer or you must respond immediately. A real company will give you time to make you decision and will give you information in writing if you request it.
- Get a phone number and physical address in case things go bad during a transaction, even better, call the number before you do anything to be sure it is the real number. A real company/business/person will understand and have no problem with it. If you are still unsure, contact the Better Business Bureau for confirmation.
- Do not deposit anything into your account until you have the bank verify that it is legit. Also, do not agree to forward any funds to ANYONE. Tell them to send the money to their shipper themselves (which is what a legit person or business would do in the first place, not trust a perfect stranger with their money).
- Do not enter personal or banking info on a public computer. There are ways for people to access or obtain it after you are logged off.
- You don’t have to wait long to use the money, but that doesn’t mean the check is good. Under federal law, banks have to make the funds you deposit available quickly – usually within one to five days, depending on the type of check. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check. It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered and the check to bounce.
REMEMBER-YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKS OR MONEY ORDERS THAT YOU DEPOSIT.EVEN IF YOU ARE A VICTIM AND WERE UNAWARE OF IT BEING A FRAUD, THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THE POLICE OR BAN WILL BELIEVE YOU AND IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE AND FORCED TO PAY THE FUNDS BACK. SOMEONE HAS TO PAY AND IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT IT WILL BE YOU!!
Now that I am done my lecture it is time for the good news!!! As I posted on my last post, I have decided to revamp my lifestyle and overhaul my food and exercise (or lack of) habits. So after browsing around for different weight loss and dieting sights, I stumbled across SparkPeople.com, the answer to my prayers. You see, I used to be the kind of girl that could eat anything I wanted and never gain a pound. However, this is mainly because I was a drug addict and only weighed 100lbs. Back when I was in middle school, I was a perfectly healthy size 7, at the time I hated it because I always had bigger thighs and hips and what the boys used to smack and call a “ghetto booty”. And while I liked the attention it garnered, at the same time I was always jealous of my girlfriends stick thin figures. So when I started using drugs the weight started literally falling off, and I won’t lie, at first i thought it was great. But that didn’t last long because soon I was so skinny you could count my ribs. And it was not a healthy skinny, it was a gaunt, sunken, skeletal skinny.I tried to eat anything and everything to gain the weight back, but it was pointless because I was still using drugs. Even after my first child, my son, even though I was clean during my pregnancy, I started using again not long after his birth so I lost the weight almost immediately. You couldn’t even tell I just had a baby.
With my daughter on the other hand, I was put on methadone and was clean for the duration of my pregnancy and she is now 18 months old and I am still clean to this day!! Now while that is fantastic and I couldn’t be happier, the one thing that I am not overly happy about is the weight I have gained back, and them some…Now I am no where near obese, not even overweight really, I, like the rest of the planet would just like to lose a few pounds and get rid of the tummy bulge, love handles and the extra few inches. So my current weight is 148lbs while my height is 168 cm. This puts me at a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 27, which is just barely into the overweight category, but no where near the obese one. So in order to bring myself back down to my ideal range for my height, I would like to lose about 20ls. My goal is to weigh 125 lbs by July 1st/2011.
This is where SparkPeople comes in. Sparkpeople is an amazing site that is developed to help you set and reach your health and weight loss goals. It does this in many ways, including allowing you to set and track goals, by providing you with a personalized meal plan (or a SparkDiet), a food tracker (to track your calories and water consumption among many other things), a personalized strength and cardio workout and fitness tracker to track your exercise. Along with my main goal I have also set many smaller goals for myself, such as drink more water, exercise three days a week for 40 minutes each, complete 30 minutes of cardio three times a day, and get outside at least once a day. Now i have only been following Sparkpeople program for two weeks but I already feel so much better and my hubby swears that my tummy is flatter and my muscles are more defined. I don’t know if its a crock of bull or not but I like it!!
My exercise program consists of a variety of different strength and resistance, as well as pilates inspired moves. I use a resistance band for some of them, as well as 5lb weights and ankle weights. For cardio I jump rope as well as doing kickboxing videos, dancing, and whatever other cardio seems fun and interesting to me at the time. I do my workouts on Tues, Thurs, and Saturday, as well as a Sunday workout that focuses just on my target areas (my cores, thighs, and hips). I usually do my cardio immediately after. As far as diets go, I am not following the Sparkdiet, I am using it as a guide. I am simple trying to eat healthier, stay in my daily calorie range of 1200-1500, chose high protein foods to fill me up and give me energy, and drink a lot of water. I do not deprive myself in any way, I actually get to have three snacks per day!! I track every single thing I consume in my food tracker to ensure I am on track. I also track my fitness, and so far I have 276 fitness minutes in!!! Not to bad if I must say so!
Another site I am using to help me out is www.Fatloser.com. I know i know, it sounds pretty sick, but it actually a great site for keeping you motivated. It is a website where you are coached by world renowned expert Steve Siebold that is centered around developing “mental toughness”, which is necessary to stick to any plan and achieve any goal, especially once as big as overhauling your whole fitness and health style. Fatloser‘s makes you hold yourself accountable and forces you to accept responsibility for how you gained weight in the first place. It gives you the tools necessary to develop a whole new relationship with food and gives you the strength you need when your old habits try to rear their ugly head. How it works is simple: You sign up for a FREE account and each day you are given a new video to watch with questions to answer. It sounds boring but it is actually something i look forward to every day because it allows to me to take my fitness and food journey one day at a time, which makes it much easier to stick to. So if you want to lose weight, get in shape or just get a bit healthier then hurry on over to Sparkpeople and FatLoser and sign up asap. Did I mention they are both absolutely free!! There is no excuse so what are you waiting for, you have nothing to lose, well except the weight:)
COMING IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS...
***I will be posting my complete diet and workout information including my general meal plan, my complete strength and cardio program, including a schedule of when and what exercises I am doing, as well as my goals and challenges that I am currently doing, along with a detailed list of all the equipment I am using, the fitness videos and books I am following and the resources I am using. I will also begin posting a healthy, low cal recipe every week that I have tried and enjoyed!! Come back soon for the latest progress report and info on my weight loss/tone up journey to a bangin’ bikini bod!! See you soon!!***
“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence? I think not!” -Author Unknown