Money Laundering
Home Scams ‘Personal Assistant’ Money Laundering Scam

‘Personal Assistant’ Money Laundering Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on September 18, 2012

Email claims that the sender requires a part-time personal assistant to handle financial activities and run various errands in return for a generous weekly wage.

Brief Analysis:
The supposed job offer is bogus. The message is an attempt by online criminals to trick people into receiving stolen funds and then wiring the bulk of the funds back to the criminals as untraceable cash. Victims may also be asked to purchase goods with the money they are sent and post them to a specified address. The scheme is a way of laundering the proceeds of crime so police investigations will lead directly to the ‘personal assistant’ while the thieves can disappear with most of the money they have stolen or take possession of goods bought with stolen funds.

Initial Contact Email
Subject: personal assistant needed

I need someone to work from home for me. $500/week. You can reply for work routine


Follow Up Email
Subject: Re: Personal Assistant Needed (More Information)

Dear Sir/Madam,


I’m Dr Jean McGowan, 51yrs of age, I’m a Pharmacist, I have been pretty
successful in a handful of ventures which have involved. I am presently
working with UNICEF and a consultant to University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

As my assistant, your activities will be.

* Running personal errands, supervisions and monitoring.
* Collection of my commissions.
* Booking appointments with my Clients
* Handling and Monitoring some of my Financial activities
* Process Payables and Purchase orders for submission
* Receiving my Monthly Memo from my associates

Basic wages is $ 500 per week.

I want us to get a head start with things as soon as possible. I do
have a pile up of work and a number of unattended chores which you can
immediately assist me with and I hope we can meet up with the workload
eventually. Permit me to use the coming week to test your efficiency
and diligence towards all this, also to work out your time schedule
and fit it to mine.

This is only an introductory e-mail, as time goes on we should be able
to arrange a proper meeting to get things started officially when i
get back from my trip because am currently in Sweden for a Seminar,
So i will be here for couples of weeks, till i get back this position will be
a part-time and home-based job.

I’m online in most cases as I am hard of hearing so I prefer we
contact each other through E-mails but if there is need for me to
call, I will gladly do that. I am happy you are willing to work
with me and I promise you my attentiveness and consideration.
I checked my files last night and what I would want you to do for me is to
run some errands out to the Pharmaceutical company I do every month.
You will receive some funds from one of my Clients that needs to get his
monthly medication. The funds will be in form of certified Cashier check,
it will be sent over to you by FedEx. You will make some arrangements by
getting the drugs to him. You will receive more information on that in the next

First Name:
Middle Name:
Last Name:
Full Street Address (not PO BOX):
Zip Code:
Cell Phone Number:
Home Phone Number:
Email Address:

Once I have received your application form, I will get back to you
with the task for the week ahead. Please understand that you will be
paid ($ 500 per week) plus Gas and incovenience charges.

NOTE: This position is home-based and flexible part time job, you can
be in any location, work from your home doing all the activities.
Hope to read from you soon.

Dr. Jean McGowan.

Detailed Analysis:
A favourite scammer ruse is to blast out unsolicited emails that supposedly offer recipients easy, and well paid, work as personal assistants. The emails, which purport to be from various successful business operators or companies, claim that the personal assistant will be required to perform various duties, including handling financial transactions, purchasing or receiving goods, and reshipping parcels. The ‘job offers’ promise quite generous remuneration in exchange for a fairly minimal workload.

However, the messages are certainly not legitimate job offers. In fact, those who take up such offers will only ‘personally assist’ criminals to turn the proceeds of crime into untraceable cash or goods. A person who takes up such a position will be instructed as part of their duties to cash cheques or money orders or accept fund transfers directly into their own bank accounts. The ‘assistant’ will next be asked to transfer a substantial portion of these received funds to a third party via a wire transfer service such as Western Union. In some cases, he or she may be asked to purchase goods or equipment and post them on to a specified third party. Alternatively, victims may be asked to receive and repost parcels that arrive via mail. Generally, the would-be worker will be instructed to deduct a percentage of each transaction and keep it as his or her wage.

But, in fact, the ‘third party’ who receives the cash transfers or parcel shipments will be the scammers themselves. This scheme is a way for criminals to ‘launder’ the proceeds of crime. The cheques or money orders received by the victim will turn out to be fake or stolen. Money transferred directly into the victim’s account may come from bank accounts hijacked via phishing scams. Unbeknown to the victims, the items they buy and send off will have been purchased with stolen money. And packages revived by mail and reposted by the victim may also contain items bought with stolen credit cards. By tricking their victims into wiring most of the stolen funds back to them in the form of cash, the criminals can disappear with their ill gotten gains. They can also receive packages containing items bought with stolen money that cannot be easily traced back to them. Meanwhile, the hapless personal assistant will be left – almost literally – holding the bundle. Police investigations will soon or later lead directly to the ‘personal assistant’. Victims may be left out of pocket when the bank discovers that cheques or money orders are bogus and, more seriously, facing the possibility of criminal charges for receiving stolen funds or goods.

There are many variations of such ‘Personal Assistant’ scam emails. Some, like the example below, offer quite substantial payments as an enticement for potential victims:

Hello Friend,

My name is John Edward, I got your contact information from an online recruitment job center and I’m looking for someone who can handle my business & personal errands at his/her spare time as I keep travelling alot. Someone who can offer me these services mentioned below:

* Pay bills on my behalf
* Shop gifts when required
* Postal services (Receive my mails and post them off according to my instruction)
* Sit for delivery (at your home) or pick items up at nearby post office at your convenience. 

Payment – $5000 would be your weekly payment.

If you are ready to go,send us your details like complete name/address/country/state/city/zip/phone/cell or you could even attach your resume.

P.S- You are not required to spend even a single dime from your pocket.

Such money laundering scams take many forms. Be wary of any message that promises work in exchange for processing funds or reshipping packages. Legitimate entities are unlikely to employ people for such positions, sight unseen, via emails. And no legitimate business is ever likely to allow ‘workers’ to pay themselves by deducting a percentage of received funds.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,