Emailfinder.com Sells Wrong Info, Now Woman Has To Show Up In Small Claims Court

Some guy in London fell for an online iPhone scam in January, so he paid $150 to emailfinder.com to track down the identity behind the Hotmail account of the person who scammed him. Now he’s suing Kim, who is completely unrelated to this story (or was, at least), for $4,368 to cover the $1200 he lost on the iPhone scam plus travel expenses for him to show up in small claims court here in the U.S.

Kim was so surprised by the summons that she contacted the man directly to find out what the heck was going on. Here’s her story. (We changed her name.)

Yesterday after a long day at work, I came home to find two certified mail notices from my town’s small claims court. I also received two regular letters from the small claims court. These were labeled as “Small and Commercial Claims Summons and Complaint.”

These are addressed to my maiden name:

Higgins, Kimberly
AKA Simpson, Kimberly (which I have never been nor heard of)
My current full address

And also:

Higgins, Jennifer
AKA Simpson, Jennifer (who I have never heard of)
My current full address

Confused, I read on to find that someone from London is claiming that I sold him 6 iPhones in January and never sent him the goods so he is now suing me for $4368.49. Which is the cost of the iPhones plus his travel expenses to come to small claims court.

Seeing as how this document gave me his name and address, a little Googling brought up his personal site and I called his listed mobile number. Here is where it gets even weirder.

Apparently in January he found some scammy website and purchased 6 iPhones from it. Instead of paying via credit card or Paypal he wired over $1200 into someone’s Bank of America account. The supplied email address for this scammer was a Hotmail account and her name was Jennifer Simpson. Having realized he was scammed, this gentleman called up Bank of America and explained what happened. He had the account number etc that he wired the funds to. However, BoA would not talk to him about it because Jennifer Simpson was not the name on the account. They told him that BoA could not help him get his money back. He then called his local authorities in London who told him they could do nothing because he purchased these “abroad.” Calls to police officers in the States amounted to the same thing.

So this man decided to use one of those email finders/people finders services online. He employed a service at http://www.emailfinder.com. These folks charged him $150 and sent him back a report saying that the scammer’s email address (Hotmail) belongs to Jennifer Simpson or Jennifer Higgins.

The emailfinder people say further investigation showed that she was either related to or WAS me, Kimberly Higgins. However they supplied the wrong middle name/initial. But the company then proceeded to just do a search for Kimberly Higgins without the middle name initial and told this gentleman that the email address belonged to me, which it does not. They then sold him the following on ME:

  • Background check
  • Bankruptcy check
  • Full Credit report and history
  • Residence check
  • Previously known addresses.
  • A list of “possible relatives” for me. (This list was horrendously incorrect, I had never even heard of half the people on it)
  • And finally a long list of people who owned my current house (that I now own) before me.

As a result of this, I now have to go to court in October to prove this was not me.

Whoever this Jennifer Simpson person is, she is still scamming people at

http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/536480/MOBILE_PHONES_SCAMMER.htm

and

http://forum.iphonegeek.mobi/general-discussion/11803-sale-apple-iphone-3g-16gb-280-blackberry-bold-9000-270-a.html

You can see her email address is either slotcomm1@yahoo.com or slotcomm1@hotmail.com.

I’ve never in my life owned a Hotmail account yet somehow this emailfinders company is associating her scams with my identity.

How do I fix this? I’m sorry the gentleman lost his money but I am NOT a scammer. I just got my first iPhone myself in December and it was a gift from my husband.

There has to be something I can do to clear my name from this. Any ideas? I tried calling the small claims court but they said even if the claim was false I have to show up there and somehow prove that I did not take this man’s money. Can’t this be proved by the fact that I’ve never had a BoA account? I’m really concerned that a stranger has all my personal info at his fingertips.

Thanks,
Kim

Consumerist readers, any suggestions? Should she contact Bank of America to get a letter or something proving she doesn’t have an account with them? If she does this before October, can she settle the claim with the plaintiff and save him the trip? Can she take emailfinder to small claims court to pay for the time she’ll lose dealing with this?
(Photo: Chris Owens)

Comments

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  1. I Love New Jersey says:

    Perhaps she should sue the emailfinder.com people as well as the person wrongly suing her.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @I Love New Jersey: Thats my thought as well.

      Either way shes going to have to get a real lawyer for this, and its going to end up being promoted away from small claims.

      • Reeve says:

        @Jim Topoleski:
        On what theory is this counter suit? Wrongful civil proceeding cause of action requires:
        Institution of a proceeding
        terminated in the defendant’s (defendant to the original action that is) favor
        absence of any probable claim
        improper cause and
        damages

        Here there is no absence of any probable claim and there is proper purpose for the plaintiff to bring the lawsuit. They are misinformed as to the proper defendant but that is not likely to give rise to a wrongful civil proceeding cause of action. Though the OP should contact a lawyer to be sure as to the rules in their jurisdiction.

        • tylerk4 says:

          @Reeve:
          Not to mention that there is likely litigation privilege that precludes that cause of action, and leaves the OP open for an Anti-SLAPP motion.

    • Hank Scorpio says:

      @I Love New Jersey:
      Exactly. (At least the first part.) I would sue the crap out of emailfinder.com and try to put them out of business.

      As far as counter-suing the other guy, I’m not sure what she could so him for, or what good it would do (other than complicate things further).

      • balthisar says:

        @Hank Scorpio: There’s no damages (yet), and so nothing for her to sue for.

        • bohemian says:

          @balthisar: Lost time for something where she did nothing wrong. She needs to estimate the time spent, mileage and any other costs incurred for her to defend herself and counter sue for that amount.
          The fact that she is zero at fault in this case might be enough for the judge to award the counter suit in her favor. It also then puts some pressure on this idiot in London to withdraw the suit.

          • katstermonster says:

            @bohemian: Agreed. File a well-thought-out counter suit in small claims before the guy has a chance to fly here, and he’ll likely drop it. I mean, sucks for him, but hasn’t anyone learned anything about wiring money to random accounts???

          • krista says:

            @bohemian: You can’t sue for the lost time or costs involved in going to court. And some of the other people’s suggestions won’t work either. She can only sue for actual monetary damages she incurs beyond having to go to court.

            It’s possible to sue for punitive damages (basically “we’re going to assess money just because you did something wrong”) but since the guy who was scammed is acting in good faith, I can’t see a court awarding any punitive amount against him.

            Her only hope is to convince the guy he is suing the wrong person, and get him to drop the case.

            Going after emailfinder.com on the other hand might have a good chance of getting punitive damages for negligence.

            • Reeve says:

              @krista: Generally speaking punitive damages are not awarded for negligence. If the OP could allege an intentional tort they may be able to recover punitive damages.

        • 2 replies says:

          @balthisar:
          I wouldn’t say that there are no damages…
          What about her sensitive personal information that emailfinder sold without her consent?
          I don’t know about where you live and IANL, but as far as I know you need prior permission from the person before you can access their credit records etc. (as each credit inquiry reflects negatively on your score).

        • Major-General says:

          @balthisar: I don’t know, libel? After all, information they provide has lead her to being sued. Buy I think she would have to win the small claims case first.

    • Tim says:

      @I Love New Jersey: The guy should probably sue emailfinder.com too, since they gave him the wrong information.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @I Love New Jersey: If they truly did provide some random person with her credit report, then she needs to sue the bejesus outta emailfinder.com – hai2u identity theft!

      I would however, suggest she start by filing some sort of complaint with the AG’s office; she might even want to consider pressing some sort of criminal charges against them (note IANAL, don’t know if there’s anything she can have them charged with, but sure seems like there should be).

    • Hoss says:

      @I Love New Jersey: She hasn’t suffered any injury other than a day in small claims

      • Real Cheese Flavor says:

        @Hoss: Plus lawyer fees and any other charges (research fees, notary fees, etc.) she might incur trying to prove that she’s not who they claim she is.

      • bohemian says:

        @Hoss: How about wasted time? My time is valuable and if I am not working I am not making money. She will end up wasting more than a day in small claims in order to build a defense for herself.

        • Hoss says:

          @bohemian @balthisar — Judge Judy might let her countersue the other side, but she had no business contact with emailfinder.com. Suing them for indirect damages is pretty difficult

          • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

            @Hoss: There are rules about who and under what circumstances someone can access your credit file. If emailfinder broke the rules and then passed on this confidential data to a third party then they can be sued.

            Btw: IANAL.

            • rekoil says:

              @IfThenElvis: Exactly – what’s troubling here was that emailfinder obtained her full credit report without her consent. Am I completely naive about the credit reporting business, or is that not legal?

      • WorldHarmony says:

        @Hoss: I would consider the selling of my personal information to a stranger who could be dangerous a threat to my privacy and safety. In other words, an injury.

        • floraposte says:

          @WorldHarmony: I can understand the feeling, but the fact is that anybody could do the same for you with this company and others just by asking–it’s not like emailfinder evaluates reasonable suspicion and only gives the information out in such cases. She hasn’t–yet, anyway–suffered anything requiring financial compensation as a result of this. Courts don’t generally award you money simply because you’re uncomfortable about something that might happen.

      • bwcbwc says:

        @Hoss: Defamation? Unauthorized release of credit report?

    • drdom says:

      @I Love New Jersey: In what jurisdiction (State and County) is this action filed. In a number of jurisdictions, more than adequate basis exists for a counter-claim. In addition, a real licensed attorney in the jurisdiction in question is in a position to challenge the jurisdiction and venue of this action, both of which appear to be lacking.

      This is an international civil dispute. In many states, someone not a citizen of the USA, for a dispute which likely did not occur in that jurisdiction, and arguably perhaps not even in this country, has no standing to file such an action. In addition, the local court likely does not have jurisdiction over this matter.

      Also, travel expenses instead of appearing in local court via appearance of local counsel indicates the lack of understanding of what are and are not damages which are eligible for compensation.

      For the defendant in this action, there is a cause of action and there are damages. And emailfinder.com is potentially on the hook along with the foreign plantiff. In most states, I believe this could be disposed of in less than 5 minutes with a motion for summary judgment drafted by any first year associate of even minimal competence.

      As a practical matter, speak to a local attorney. He or she is in a good position to contact the plantiff, advise him of the consequences of his errant filing, and get a dismissal or summary judgment quickly.

      They can also vigorously pursue emailfinder.com if they don’t come up with the minimal fees for your attorney to get you removed from this mess.

      But let’s be clear, you have a cause of action, and a competent attorney familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction can dispose of this matter quickly and at a reasonable cost. You should be able to recover those costs from the responsible parties.

      • Reeve says:

        @drdom:
        You usually can not file for summary judgment in small claims.

        You have reiterated what has been discussed in many other comments especially re: damages which I agree with you on.

        As to personal jurisdiction – it was previously noted that if the OP is not a resident of the state where the small claims court is that may be a problem. However, your theory is flawed. A foreign Plaintiff may submit to the jurisdiction of another court. I have never seen a citation to something saying a foreign citizen can not file suit in the US so if you have one that would be intersting. However, depending on the jurisdiction for small claims you may have to be a resident of the state – I am not familiar with all the jurisdiction rules of small claims courts.

        As to other jurisdictional requirements, the plaintiff seems to be alleging that the defendant committed at least part of a tort in the forum. This may prove to be not true but it probably is enough for personal jurisdiction.

        I do not know what the counter claim is against the original plaintiff???

        A suit against emailfinder? People have suggested libel/defamation though it is not clear how easy it would be to assert this cause of action: A statement from emailfinder (based on the disclaimers on their website) basically said that the OP may be the person at that email address. Of course the OP should consult a lawyer on that but it may be more effort than it is worth here re: what damages are going to be recovered compared to the possible expense of bringing the suit.

        So in sum, no summary judgment, no motion practice in general in most small claims court. No one has come up with a theory of a counter claim that is viable against the plaintiff. Probably the best route is just to contest it on the facts and see if the plaintiff even shows up (which may not happen). The OP seems to have a great defense on the facts.

    • Coyote says:

      @I Love New Jersey: My first thoughts too. Defamation of character would just be the start. If what emailfinder “found” led to a court case, then yes they are liable for any information they claim is hers. (IANAL)

      Also I would assume they don’t always use legal means to find data, plus the fact that they sold information about a US citizen to someone in another country with no prior notice/consent/authority. Then there’s the fact that it’ll be near impossible for her to be held liable in any court in the US for something done in England. If I were her I would explain to the guy he’s wasting even more money by fighting this, he’ll have to extradite your ass which would cost him even more.

      To the scamee, just suck it up admit you were scammed and move along.

      • Reeve says:

        @Coyote:
        YANAL!
        For defamation one needs to show:
        1. a defamatory statement
        2. of or concerning the OP
        3. which was published to a third party
        4. damages

        Damages usually are presumed a libel case (ie written defamation)(however just because you do not need to show damages to allege a prima facie case does not mean you are relieved from showing what damages there were to collect which gets into a damages discussion of showing causation, foreseeability, certainty and unaviodability to collect). The info was published to a third party and the publication requirement is usually de minimis for defamation. However, is a statement that someone MAY be the owner of an email address defamatory? That may be a tough argument.

        Further, there may be a qualified privilege which arises when there is a public interest in promoting candor that the website can assert in defense (though that may be a weak defense).

        It is probably more trouble than it is worth though the OP should ask a lawyer in their jurisdiction as local law may provide a solid case where it would be worth the effort.

        Another tort the OP may try is intrusion upon seclusion which is the intruding on one’s private affairs which would be objectionable to a reasonable person where the OP has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Of course a local lawyer may know the precedent where the OP is so the OP should ask a local lawyer. However, is it objectionable to try and locate someone who you have a good faith belief committed a tort against you? Don’t know if it is worth the effort (of course, once again, local law may be different and the OP may have a solid case in their jurisdiction which warrants the effort so they should seek out the advice of a lawyer where they live).

  2. Wombatish says:

    Go to small claims court, afaik (which admittedly, only extends to a suit I was involved in a while back and basic legal knowledge) discovery is on -him-.

    Say: Can he match my I.P. address with one associated with the email? No? Can/did EmailFinder? No? Why are we even here, your honor?

    TBH, I see this being a slam-dunk for you. The judge would hopefully not rule against you without proof that it’s your email…. and the connection to you is only your name, and it’s not even your name?

    You might also see if Hotmail can provide a list of all the accounts associated with your computer/I.P.

    The guy needs to sue EmailFinder for selling him crappy info, not you!

    • Wombatish says:

      @Wombatish: Also: The Bank of America account. Be sure to stress that he has no idea who that is connected to, and that it’s not connected to you. Is it mentioned in the Credit Report?

      Once again, it’s up to him to show that -you- are the scammer, and he’s just… not.

      • CarlR says:

        @Wombatish: IANAL, but would the report from emailfinder even be directly admissible? It would seem that it would be considered hearsay and that an actual representative from emailfinder would have to appear in court to present their findings – otherwise there is no way to cross-examine the witness.

        At a minimum it seems that an affidavit specific to this case would be required (ie: emailfinder affirms that these results are true nder penalty of perjury)

      • UX4themasses says:

        @katiat325: Best post on this topic, WTG.

        Beware that this is a scam. I see nothing about this case that has any merit. There is no proof, no motive, no intent, no NOTHING.

        BTW, if the defendant wins isn’t she entitled to compensation of fees and hardship? IANAL.

        • Reeve says:

          @UX4themasses:
          “BTW, if the defendant wins isn’t she entitled to compensation of fees and hardship? IANAL.”

          Plaintiff has paid all the fees in this case. She will not be entitled to hardship.

          • Reeve says:

            @Reeve:
            To amend my previous post – maybe if she tried to prove wrongful civil proceedings she could try for hardship but as discussed above it is not likely to succeed. She may consult a lawyer in her jurisdiction as maybe there are more lenient rules or other torts she can bring but simply saying you had to show up for a day of court or prepare etc is usually not recoverable.

            • katiat325 says:

              @Reeve: no it’s not, but to file questions and countersuit does take money, since she will have to pay any additional fees. she NEEDS to file the questions to him and to the court, to further ascertain his knowledge and validity of his information. Questions are pretty much that, a form where you put in questions in regard to the evidence, the way it was obtained, to the legality of it, of the situation, etc., and you send that off to the plaintiff and he MUST answer them. They need also be submitted to the court. If she received legal counsel, she can also try and get compensation for that.

              Chances are, this guy himself is a scammer, hoping the OP won’t show up to get default judgement, once the OP prepares herself and send the questions and countersuit, just watch it all drop. Although the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, if he chooses to only put in certain evidence without any question from the defendant it will make for a bad case. The OP needs to do the above things because it will take more credibility away from the plaintiff, and if he says anything in court to contradict his answers, it’ll probably be dismissed.

              • Reeve says:

                @katiat325:
                If they counter sue they may get the small filing fees which are assessed in small claims court if the OP wins.

                Quarry, on what grounds are they filing a counter suit and what is the probability of success. You may refer to other conversations on the subject which have been posted on this article.

                As to interrogatories most state’s do not allow them for small claims suits. The OP could try and remove to the superior court but is it worth it?

                As for attorney’s fees – what state allows for recover of attorney’s fees for the winning party?

    • rbb says:

      @Wombatish: If I were the judge that question/answer would be all that is needed to toss the case. BUT, if you get a judge that is technology illiterate, then that definitely will not be enough.

      A low tech would be to cast considerable doubt on the information supplied by emailfinder. Get your relatives to sign and notarize statements of their relationship to you. Then use it to show how the relative list is full of wholes. Go over the other documents with a fine tooth comb. Consult a lawyer to check if any were illegally acquired. If anything has your social security number on it, go after them. That should not be released.

    • katiat325 says:

      @Wombatish: I second that, file questions with the court and with him about the IP address and such. Also, make sure that you submit evidence of emailfinder’s disclaimer about not using thier information for certain issue (as others have stated in the comments), that you submit a letter (notarized) from BofA on this legal issue and that you don’t have an account with them, and if BofA doesn’t give you a notarized letter, then a letter on their official letterhead should do.

      Lastly, make sure to file a countersuit, for the damages of losing your time for getting any and all of the above done, for loss of work, for processing and court fees, and any legal assistance fees that you received. You should be able to do it through the small claims court for the same trial, just go down there and speak to the court clerk and they should be able to provide you with assistance.

      Also, the amount he’s suing you for is too much, considering that the cap in small claims court is $5,000, so he’s pushing it and is probably a scammer himself (especially since he was going cheap and buying 6 iphones to probably hack and resell — what’s his business anyways that you saw from his blog?)

    • Reeve says:

      @Wombatish:

      Burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Technically defendant has to prove nothing. Defendant can simply defend with asserting that there no proof besides something from a sketchy website that I am the person who scammed them.

      In defense you may say that there is no bank account linked to you or any proof that you received the money.

      Also, it is highly doubtful that the plaintiff is going to get travel expenses.

  3. BadHairLife says:

    You should be counter-suing for your costs.

  4. Jim Topoleski says:

    Here you go just did a quick look.

    [www.emailfinder.com]

    Basically multiple times in there, are legal clauses that state what he is doing is in violation of his agreement with them.

    • PowderedToastMan says:

      @Jim Topoleski: Like here: “You may not… (c) voluntarily produce EmailFinder.com data in legal proceedings.”

      • kduhtoe says:

        @PowderedToastMan: @catastrophegirl – just add kittens: It seems pretty clear that this information is inadmissible in court as PROOF the OP had anything to do with the scam. The guy in London is going to need to produce actual evidence linking the website, the original e-mails, and the transfer of funds to the OP.

        • floraposte says:

          @kduhtoe: The judge isn’t bound by emailfinder’s contract; if s/he thinks it’s admissible, it’ll be admitted.

          • Jim Topoleski says:

            @floraposte: Your right a judge isnt bound by the contract, but the fact it spells out quite clearly that its not accurate would make it inadmissible as evidence against the defendant.

            • floraposte says:

              @Jim Topoleski: No, it could still be determined to be admissible–meaning the judge could be willing to look at it–it just wouldn’t prove the case.

              • TheStateOnDVD2Day_GitEmSteveDave says:

                @floraposte: Doesn’t the Judge look at the evidence to determine if it is Admissible? AFAIK, a Judge can look over/hear any document/evidence in chambers to decide if it should be admissible. Given the clause(s) mentioned above, in particular the one:
                “The information is provided “AS-IS” and neither EmailFinder.com nor any of our data suppliers represents or warrants that the information is current, complete or accurate.”
                That would make any testimony/report from EmailFinder hearsay evidence, and more than likely would only be allowed by a judge if it was offered to rebut a witnesses testimony. BUT, IIRC, hearsay evidence is allowed in English courts, as they are all screwy, i.e. in Slander/Libel cases, the burden is on the accused to prove they did not slander.

                Also, since this might fall under computer forensics, it would require an expert from EmailFinder and/or an independent “expert” in the field to validate the results, at least in open court.

            • mythago says:

              @Jim Topoleski: What a company puts in its contract has nothing to do with the court’s rules about evidence.

          • Bs Baldwin says:

            @floraposte: It could be admitted if emailfinder will validate the info, which it sounds like they won’t. That is like the first week in law school.

      • Amish Undercover says:

        @PowderedToastMan: I also have to wonder, why does this guy think someone running a scam would use their real name in registering their email account? It is so easy to fill in a random name on Hotmail’s registration that even Hotmail’s internal data on the account is likely worthless.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Jim Topoleski: actually here’s the one that i think makes the best case for throwing it out
      from that link: “Our Products are restricted to U.S. customers and information only”
      the guy suing her is in london

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @catastrophegirl – just add kittens: it doesn’t look like any judge would be able to use that info as evidence anyway:

        “The information is provided “AS-IS” and neither EmailFinder.com nor any of our data suppliers represents or warrants that the information is current, complete or accurate.”

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @Jim Topoleski: Sounds like she should call up email finder and let them know the man is using the “evidence” in court and filed a suit against her. If this has legal ramifications for them, they may sue the guy from Europe.

  5. jswilson64 says:

    Her first mistake was in accepting the certified mail from the court. Make ‘em hire a process server!!! :-)

    OK, in all seriousness, she needs to contact BofA for proof she’s not involved, contact Hotmail for same, and get proof to the guy. Get all her ducks in a row in case the guy decides to fly here.

    And yes, she should consider suing or filing some kind of charge against the people that sold her identity to someone else.

    Under no circumstances should she skip the court date – default judgments are not fun.

    • kim- says:

      @jswilson64:

      I never accepted the certified mail. I explained to my postman that it was wrongly sent to me.

    • Reeve says:

      @jswilson64:
      In many states process can be served by certified mail for small claims court.

      On the other hand it does not say if this small claims court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. If this is a small claims court claim from a different state there may be no personal jurisdiction.

      • Kevin Wolf says:

        @Reeve: That’s true, but AFAIK if you do not sign for the certified mail there is no proof it was delivered and therefore wasn’t a successful act of serving process.

        • Reeve says:

          @Kevin Wolf: risky game to play.

          • Kevin Wolf says:

            @Reeve: The only risk in most jurisdictions I am aware of is that they get a process server to serve you and you end up getting served anyway.

            • Reeve says:

              @Kevin Wolf: Or there may be a presumption if it is sent by certified mail that it is served. In this case you may have a default judgment. If you did not sign for it and had no notice then it would be hard to appear and dispute personal service and for what point? Small claims court is not supposed to be hard and the judge may get pissed off that you are trying to duck how everyone serves in small claims. Further, are you going to refuse every certified letter in your life out of fear of lawsuits? This person had no clue a lawsuit was even coming?

              Further, you may have to pay the process server expenses for refusing to accept service by mail.

    • Skaperen says:

      @jswilson64: No she does NOT need to contact BofA. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff (provided Kim shows up and asserts her defense that she has no BofA account, never received such funds, yada, yada, yada). Of course, if she can get a certification from BofA that she has no account with them, that can help speed things up. But with all the people of similar name that BofA is likely to have as account holders, it is very unlikely BofA would even do the research, much less do the certification, without Kim paying them a lot of money to do it (you know how banks just love to charge ridiculously high fees for everything).

      She should counter sue, demand discovery, challenge all incomplete evidence, assert the plaintiff’s case failed without proof, and since the plaintiff is foreign (making a counter suit harder to collect on) demand the plaintiff place her estimated defense costs in escrow with the court to be paid to her when she wins.

  6. esd2020 says:

    IANAL, but you can file a Motion to Vacate without having to show up in person.

  7. Hank Scorpio says:

    Jennifer Higgins…Jennifer Simpson…Jennifer Stevens…Martha Stewart…Penelope Olsen…Muddy Mae Suggins? These are the calling cards of a con artist.

    (Sorry, had to be done.)

  8. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Lordy, from one scammer to another.

  9. esd2020 says:

    Vacating a Judgement: [www.creditinfocenter.com]

  10. IphtashuFitz says:

    I would definitely get in touch with a lawyer and see what they have to say about going after emailfinder.com. I think she could get significant damages from them, much more than what you can get from small claims court.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @IphtashuFitz:

      On what basis do you think she could get significant damages from them? They provided the guy with public records. The only thing I can see that might have crossed the line is the credit history, but even that may have been legal.

      You can be sure that they didn’t say “this woman scammed you.” What they gave him was their best guess as to who was connected to the e-mail address he gave them. All you can ever hope for with a person search is a best guess. It’s not their fault that the guy went and sued without making any additional efforts to determine that she is the scammer.

      • Skaperen says:

        @Cant_stop_the_rock: If the search was faulty AND she incurred costs as a result of those faults, then she would have a potential case against emailfinder. Care needs to be done to separate the faults of the plaintiff. For example if he bought the search using the wrong email account because the scam artist was effective in tricking the plaintiff into believing a different email address was involved, then emailfinder might not be at fault. But given that Kim has seen this data and asserted much of it is wrong, it sure looks like emailfinder is doing a bad job. To the extent that their wrong information causes damage, that’s a valid basis to recover damages.

        • bwcbwc says:

          @Skaperen: With all the disclaimers emailfinder has about using their info in court, their defense would be that the costs she is incurring are due to the misuse of the information by the guy in London, and not their fault at all.

          I’m wondering if this guy in London is the real scammer.

  11. Hil-fish says:

    Maybe I’m naive – but maybe OP could reach out to the {idiot} suing her and try to clear this up? If she has the info from EmailFinder, she can provide copies of official documents showing her middle name, which would seem to deomnstrate that EmailFinder did not do a good search. If this {idiot} is a reasonable person (which is unlikely, given that he got scammed in the first place and is trying to fly to the US to sue with no better evidence than EmailFinder’s word), he may be willing to drop the suit at that point.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @Hil-fish: You are not naive, but apparently you cant read.

      she did EXACTLY that.

      • Hil-fish says:

        @Jim Topoleski, @ IphtashuFitz, @ crashfrog: Yes, she did apparently contact him, but he gave her loads of info. It doesn’t state how he reacted to her calling him, it doesn’t state how she received the info. Did he e-mail it? Give her the story over the phone? Hand the phone over to his mom to explain the situation because he’s too upset to discuss it rationally? It doesn’t say. If she got him on the phone again, and pointed out the numerous problems with him suing her based on this useless information, maybe she could convince him to drop the case without wasting a lot of time countersuing or going to court.

        I’m still saying maybe. He sounds like a complete dumbass. And I don’t know how I’d react in his shoes, but I’d like to think that I’d be open to someone proving to me that I’ve got the wrong guy. I’m fighting for some common sense here. If he won’t budge, if he’s hell-bent on suing, then countersue the bejesus out of him. But give reason a chance! (with apologies to John Lennon)

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @Hil-fish: Did you even read the article?

      “Seeing as how this document gave me his name and address, a little Googling brought up his personal site and I called his listed mobile number.”

      It appears the details were obtained from this phone call.

    • crashfrog says:

      @Hil-fish: “Clear it up”? Imagine for a minute that you just got scammed for over a grand, and you think you’re Sherlock Holmes, so you find the address and credit report of the person you think scammed you (score!), but they call you up and say “hey, I’m not who you think I am; I never scammed you. Could you not sue me please? Thanks!”

      Isn’t that exactly what you’d expect a scammer to tell you? Would you walk away from $1200 just because someone told you they weren’t the one who took it? I’m not asking for sympathy for this guy, he sounds like kind of a dumbass and he’s about to cause big problems for someone who never did anything to him, but it’s not exactly reasonable to expect him to take Kim’s word for it if he thinks she’s a shifty shyster.

      Get a lawyer, in other words. (And then counter-sue for the fees.)

      • Skaperen says:

        @crashfrog: Do the counter suit up front. Because the guy is foreign, collecting against him will be harder to do, because he doesn’t have funds in this country. If he wants to come here and use our courts for what will cause someone else to incur great cost, then he needs to put his money on the line if he believes he’s right. She should counter sue up front and ask the court to require the plaintiff to place her estimated costs in escrow for the case to proceed.

  12. Amber Cooper says:

    YOu can get a certified/notorized statement from BoA stating you do not now nor ever have had an account with them. Also contact Emailfinder.com and inform them of their mistake. The BoA statement is your saving grace legally. It proves you are not involved in this personally. But a judge should look at this and toss it aside. Sorry for the guy but he isnt getting his money out of an innocent person just because he was stupid enough to fall for that scam.

    • Tux the Penguin says:

      @Amber Cooper: That’s it right there. Ignore everything else and go to BoA. That’s your defense right now – “I have never had an account at BoA” or, if you do, get BoA to provide a FULL transaction history going back, say, three months before the guy got scammed, JUST to be sure. And have them certify all of that, etc. It’ll cost you some expense most likely, but its cheaper than losing.

      As for countersuing, I don’t know what the laws are in your area. But typically you can only cap it at court and legal fees, no punitive. But as I said, it depends on where you’re located and the venue you’re being sued in.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @Amber Cooper: Better yet, as she’s now the defendant in a lawsuit she can file subpoenas to get this information. She just needs to go to the courthouse and ask for help from the clerk. They have standardized forms to fill out & file for a small fee. BoA might hesitate to provide any information without a subpoena, but with one she shouldn’t have any problems. And as far as emailfinder.com goes, she should subpoena all records and communications they have regarding the plaintiff, all records involving the data they ultimately provided him, etc.

    • cortana says:

      @Amber Cooper: I wonder how much the fee for such a document is.

  13. Murph1908 says:

    How does EmailFinder work? What information does it use to determine the identity of the owner of the email address? Doubtful that they are tracking the IP address and getting the customer info from the provider.

    Are they getting the info from the information you set up when making the account? If so, could you figure out who the judge is on the case, make a hotmail account with his name on it, and show to the court that EmailFinder has shown that the judge owns the email account ilikemypagesbentover@hotmail.com?

    • edsobo says:

      @Murph1908:
      +1 for creative problem solving. :)

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @Murph1908: They get it the info from whatever info is directly avail for that email address and cross referencing it with other known existing information (for example, email addresses used on social networking sites)

    • Sockatume says:

      @Murph1908: From the sounds of things, emailfinder take whatever information you give them (the made-up name the scammer used) and find somebody, anybody, in the universe, who matches that name. Then they contact credit bureaus and genealogical research sites, get their reports, staple them to a form letter, and pretend like they know what the fuck they’re doing.

  14. IphtashuFitz says:

    As far as the small claims lawsuit goes, simply printing out the terms of service from the emailfinder.com website should be enough (although I’d still try to get BoA to provide details regarding the bank account in question, as mentioned above).

    Here is a part of the Terms and Conditions from emailfinder.com that you can find at [www.emailfinder.com]

    “11. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES. The information in our databases has been compiled from public records, user submissions, and other proprietary sources for the specific purposes of (1) locating individuals, property and businesses, and/or (2) providing general background information about individuals and businesses for verification purposes. The information is provided “AS-IS” and neither EmailFinder.com nor any of our data suppliers represents or warrants that the information is current, complete or accurate.”

    Since they explicitly state that the data is supplied “as-is” and they don’t make any claims as to its accuracy then it should be pretty much a slam dunk to get the small claims judge to throw it out. Bring a complete printout of the T&C to court with you.

    • Rachacha says:

      @IphtashuFitz: Throw out the information, or at least have the person who bought the iPhones provide additional evidence that supports the suspected identity named by emailfinder.com

      • WraithSama says:

        @Rachacha:
        It doesn’t matter, per emailfinder.com’s own terms of service, data they provide cannot be used in a legal proceeding. Here is the relevant part from their ToS:

        You may not: …(c) voluntarily produce EmailFinder.com data in legal proceedings.

        • frari489 says:

          @WraithSama:

          they may say that, but that means nothing really in the courts view. It’s a judge that decides what can be used in a legal proceeding.

          The most telling thing is their disclaimer:

          “The information is provided “AS-IS” and neither EmailFinder.com nor any of our data suppliers represents or warrants that the information is current, complete or accurate.”

          If this is the best information the guy has to sue, then Kim can merely show the court this and state the information is unreliable by their own statement.

          • Skaperen says:

            @frari489: A proper defense in court is NEVER to “merely” show anything. The hearing is a ONE SHOT to show your entire defense. NEVER depend on just one piece of proof. Assert a complete defense despite how much of a slam dunk any one piece looks like. It can help show how frivolous the suit is, and better help her to collect damages from the the plaintiff (she needs to counter sue up front and ask the court to order the plaintiff to place her expected defense costs in escrow for the case to proceed, due to his foreign status, since his funds would be otherwise out of reach by the court).

  15. Hoss says:

    Not to worry “Kim”. I doubt he will show up — and if he does, it will be a long trip home. Imagine risking $3,000 to get back $1,200. Nuts

    • frank64 says:

      @Hoss: Yeah, he went on a fishing expedition and didn’t get the one he wanted, when he knows this he won’t spend the money on the trip knowing that it won’t be recovered.

      • alexburrito says:

        @frank64: I agree. He’d never spend the money to get to the States without being sure he’d recover it. And, the info he got from emailfinder is too sketchy to be certain. He’s hoping she’ll pay him off to avoid court.

        • slopirate says:

          @alexburrito: A logical person wouldn’t spend the money. But we’re talking about a guy who wired $1200 to a random bank account without knowing who owned it. Probably not the brightest bloke in London.

          • katstermonster says:

            @slopirate: Thank you…this is what I’ve been trying to say. No logical person will show up. He isn’t a logical person. He will show up. Look there – LOGIC is fun! :)

            • frank64 says:

              @katstermonster: I bet you $5 he doesn’t show.

              • katstermonster says:

                @frank64: He can’t sue for travel costs unless he travels. By his conversation with the OP, it doesn’t sound like he plans on dropping the lawsuit over silly things like whether he’s even suing the right person (trivial!), so how’s he going to simultaneously continue the lawsuit and not travel?

                • frank64 says:

                  @katstermonster: Well what he says and what he does are two different things. They had one conversation and I think it has given him something to think about…. I am sure he is going to discover his info from emailfinder is a little suspect, it seems to me he has a better case against them!

                  Initial conversations such as this are mostly bluff, common sense does comes into play, especially when it is apparently such a slam dunk.

          • Skaperen says:

            @slopirate: Probably a British lawyer. What do they call them … hair heads?

    • strandist says:

      @Hoss: Except this is also the guy who wired $1200 to an “international company” with a Hotmail account. I don’t think we’re talking about the brightest bulb in the chandelier here.

      • floraposte says:

        @strandist: I wonder if it would be worth it for Kim to get the affidavit from BOA and then send him a copy, saying, as non-adversarially as possible, “Look, this is what I can produce in court, and it means you’ll lose.”

  16. Michael Kinne says:

    Watch out for their “opt-out” policy as well; by requiring your first and last name, they are essentially building their “people search” database used by their “partner sites”‘ access – all of this based on the information you freely provide them.

  17. Sneeje says:

    I would send a certified letter to the individual in London explaining your defense, which would amount to asking for proof of the link between you and the individual in question. Since proof of discovery is on him, hopefully he would realize there is no way he can make the case. Then explain to him that you are going to file a motion to vacate based on the lack of a provable link (no BoA account, no proof of identity, etc.) Then file the motion. Finally, explain to him that he would be taking a great risk of losing more money if he travels and the case goes against him.

  18. Cuban Embassy says:

    First of all,

    The guy suing her is a total tard. Why on earth would a random ‘email finder’ service be able to determine the true identity behind a hotmail account.

    Go sign up for one. Did you have to give your real name and address?

    I’m trying to figure out why a sane, competent person would bother going through all this trouble to sue someone who is obviously not related to this crime at all.

    Perhaps the guy in London is himself, a scammer?

    Deep.
    -Cuban

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @Cuban Embassy: The type of person who would do this is the type of person that would fall for a (likely obvious) scam that cost him $1200.

    • kduhtoe says:

      @Cuban Embassy: The person claiming to have been scammed is a scammer himself! THE PLOT THICKENS!

    • Julia789 says:

      @Cuban Embassy: Maybe he does this to multiple people, threatening that if they don’t send the $1,200 for the iphones, he will force them to pay thousands in legal fees, etc.? I wonder how many people think it’s worth $1,200 to avoid the $4,000 whatever he’s suing them for?

      If he does this multiple times, his full name will be in small claims court public State records. Maybe check in a few states to see if his name comes up.

      • Brent Woodle says:

        @Julia789: I could see that if it were real court, but not SCC. there are no legal fees involved in being sued in SCC unless you lose.

        • Julia789 says:

          @Brent Woodle: Maybe he tells his “scam victims” that they will be forced to pay thousands in legal fees (or court fees?) and they don’t know any better? Just brainstorming as to how his little scam would work, if it is a scam and not just an idiot who orders iPhones through wire transfer from overseas. ;-)

          • trujunglist says:

            @Julia789:

            Could work I suppose. Maybe he’s counting on people not responding at all, resulting in a default judgment. Seems like a lot to go through though to get only $1,200, what with the travel requirements etc

            • Julia789 says:

              @trujunglist: If it is a scam, I don’t think he actually shows up at court at all. Maybe he just files the paperwork from overseas to scare them into just wiring him the $1,200 to “drop the charges” so to speak? Just brainstorming here. The whole thing sounds suspicious. I can’t make sense of someone flying from overseas to show up in small claims court for $1,200. It would cost more to fly and get a hotel and get a car to and from the airport, etc. There has to be a catch?

  19. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The OP can check her credit report to find out who did the credit check – then go after them/report them for unauthorized activity.

  20. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    From all the responses here I get a warm fuzzy feeling that if I were in a jam, a post by Chris would open up so much advice my problems would just melt away.

    Of course, as long as the original post doesn’t have my name in it. If it did I’m sure it would be a “BURN HIM AT THE STAKE” time.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @Applekid: I was targeted by a loon on usenet 10 or so years ago who had been threatening to sue everybody who harassed him. He managed to locate my personal details (I used to post with my real name) so I was one of two people he ended up suing in small claims court. When I let everybody on that usenet group know that I’d been sued by him it was absolutely amazing the amount of help I got. Not only did I get tons of documentation from people that could have been used to help defend myself, along with lots of moral support and notes from people planning to come to the courthouse to support me, but some people also located a state law that effectively rendered the entire lawsuit invalid. This idiot sued me for libel & slander, but in my state there’s a law on the books that says those sorts of suits can’t be heard in small claims court (a jury trial is required). He ended up traveling hundreds of miles to face me in court, I pointed the judge to the appropriate statute, she took it under advisement, and two days later I got a letter in the mail indicating that my motion to dismiss had been accepted. The idiot who sued me warned me that he’d go after me in “superior court”, but that was 10 years ago now and I’ve never heard anything else from him.

      • katstermonster says:

        @IphtashuFitz: That’s incredible…hooray for using logic to one’s distinct advantage. Also: did no one else learn the meanings of the word libel and slander in school? They both have to refer to false statements (by the general definition, and I assume in the court of law…correct me if I’m wrong), and slander has to be the spoken word. From the sound of it, this guy had no way to hear you speak, or have anyone tell him what you said in person. So….no slander. And as long as you didn’t lie, no libel! Yahoo!

        • INTPLibrarian says:

          @katstermonster: That it has to be false is true for U.S. law. UK doesn’t require that; only that it’s harmful. Just FYI, cuz it’s interesting.

        • IphtashuFitz says:

          @katstermonster: Yeah, everybody in that usenet group got a lot of laughs out of all the mistakes that guy made. Not just the libel vs. slander issue and the neglecting to see if he could even file a libel or slander suit in small claims court, but some of the outrageous claims he made against me as well. He tried to attribute problems with his business and comments that other people made all to me. There was no logic whatsoever in his arguments. I almost wished we could have presented all our evidence to the judge. I’m sure she would have quickly seen just what a dolt this guy was as well.

          • floraposte says:

            @IphtashuFitz: Wow. Any chance you’d share the name of the newsgroup? I probably knew about this at the time, and I’m curious which event this might be. (Closest I came was a guy who demanded I send him the name of my lawyer so that he could sue me. I was, alas, unhelpful.)

          • katstermonster says:

            @IphtashuFitz: ahaha. wow. what a moron.

      • EdnaLegume says:

        @IphtashuFitz: wow… sounds like you’ve been through a lot of “pain and suffering” all these years…. *wink wink* j/k. Seriously though, that guy had way too much free time. I thought I had free time….. that’s nuts.

      • Joe_Bloe says:

        @IphtashuFitz: You wouldn’t happen to be talking about Zoom Campbell by any chance, would you?

    • Skaperen says:

      @Applekid: I was threatened with a lawsuit once by a law firm in another city, because I posted an explanation online about how their email server got blacklisted by being an open relay. They assumed because I “knew something” about it, that I had caused the blacklisting. That was averted by showing them that their mail server was indeed faulty, and the blacklisting had been done in another country … and more importantly, my posting history showed I was offering help to people who had been blacklisted to show them how to get unblacklisted. That and my statement “I love to be wrongly sued by people with very deep pockets”.

  21. jedsa says:

    Do we know what state the small claims court is in?

  22. shepd says:

    How do you fix this?

    I’m pretty certain the information he gathered is not legal for him to possess without your permission. Sue *him* for the illicitly obtained documents. You have proof of damages — the amount he is suing for.

    Let him decide if he wants to pay your filing costs + drop his suit in exchange for you dropping yours. Otherwise, enjoy winning while he loses.

    • Anathema777 says:

      @shepd: None of the information that he got is illegal or illicitly obtained (as long as the credit report doesn’t include an SS number, which I don’t think it does)

      • floraposte says:

        @Anathema777: Yes, I think that’s being misunderstood. His being the victim of a crime didn’t give him special access; he just paid a service that any of us could use, to get information that any of us could get (or that any of us could feature in).

      • shepd says:

        @Anathema777:

        Interesting. In Canada, it is illegal to obtain a credit report without either authorization (a “hard” hit) or without having special clearance to do a basic check (a “soft” hit).

        I guess it is different over there. Oh well. Ignore what I said then. Sure does explain why it is so easy to do credit fraud in the states, though.

  23. kduhtoe says:

    This is quite a pickle; I would contact a lawyer before contacting anyone else. Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion either.

    • Julia789 says:

      @kduhtoe: Too bad that may cost hundreds of dollars. I feel bad for her, she’s screwed either way. Even if she gets this all dropped, there is now a permanent public record on State files saying she was accused of being a scam artist and con person. Even if it’s dropped, that will show and could affect future employment, background checks, etc.

      :-(

      • kduhtoe says:

        @Julia789: I’m no expert in public record, but I doubt the record states she was “accused of being a scam artist and con person”. It will likely be displayed as any other case in a small claims court docket (one party vs another for failure to deliver services after receipt of payment).

        • Julia789 says:

          @kduhtoe: Well that’s a relief. I thought court records showed a lot more detail, all you had to do was request a copy because it’s public records? For example, run a search on the person’s name, and if you see a case with their name on it, request more detailed records?

          • wrjohnston19283 says:

            @Julia789:

            Once this is done, she will be on record as being a party to a lawsuit, with a vague description (X vs Y, failure to deliver). One could then request the copies of the documents from the court, at a cost of course. I don’t think most employers go that far. They’ll check to see if you have a history of being sued, but I don’t think they’ll request each case to review.

            • Julia789 says:

              @wrjohnston19283: Perhaps it’s not as bad as I imagine. However, I still think it looks bad to have on record that she was sued, even if the case doesn’t get anywhere. I feel bad for her, having this all dumped on her and defend herself over something she had nothing to do with.

  24. katstermonster says:

    A birth certificate and a document resulting from the legal name change to her married name should get the judge in gear, along with the details about the middle initial. A BoA statement attesting to her never having an account with them should clear up the rest. It’s pretty clear that she’s not the right person, it’s just a matter of having the documentation. Go overboard, and the judge will be all over the guy for having even brought this to court.

    ALSO: I don’t get how these sites work…how are they allowed to give out your credit report without your permission???? I’m totally clueless as to those rules, can someone clear it up for me?

    • CFinWV says:

      @katstermonster: I’d love Consumerist to do an article on these operations. I’m really uneasy about hearing this.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @katstermonster: it doesn’t look like there’s any name change involved. two of the names that emailfinder.com gave the guy aren’t and have never been her names.

      • katstermonster says:

        @catastrophegirl – minus one kitten: Three of them – there’s her first name paired with a last name she never had. And emailfinder.com indicated that Jennifer and Kimberly were either related, or the same person. She can’t prove that she has never been Kimberly Higgins (except with a different middle initial), but she can prove that she has never been Kimberly Simpson, and therefore can neither be nor be related to Jennifer Higgins/Simpson.

    • dorianh49 says:

      @katstermonster: Why would she have to prove that she’s NOT this person? You can’t prove a negative. The person bringing the claim would need to prove that she IS the person, right?

      • katstermonster says:

        @dorianh49: The other person has proof, albeit shabby. The proof starts with an email address that scammed the guy and ends with four names, one of which is her maiden name. Let’s pretend for a second that the judge is clueless enough to see those two things and believe that Kim IS the scammer. She will, in fact, need to prove several things to disprove the proof, if you will. She needs to show that (a) the Higgins/Simpson connection is crap, and (b) that the middle names on some initial results don’t match.

        Or she can just bring emailfinder.com’s TOS, which state clearly that they do not guarantee ANY information they give out. :)

  25. David Eckert says:

    Also, if you really want to burn this guy for messing with you, let him set the court date. Wait until about a week or so in advance, then ask for it to be changed; usually the defendant gets wide latitude in small claims court to do this. Make him pay a ton of money for the ticket change. Maybe he’ll give up, but if he doesn’t and still loses, he’ll be out that much more.

    • kduhtoe says:

      @David Eckert: Why attack the person suing? He is only trying to reclaim the money he lost. It was a stupid way to lose money, but this kind of thing happens. Since he has been scammed, he has good reason to be skeptical of the OP’s claim that she is not the scammer. It is unlikely she will be able to convince him of this outside of the courtroom. I really do not understand why you would want this (slightly stupid) person from London to pay more for their initial mistake.

      • David Eckert says:

        @kduhtoe: Well, I’m assuming she has tried to reason with this guy and explain to him it isn’t her. If he is continuing this lawsuit, he is simply wasting her time and deserves a little punishment. I feel bad for him, too, but it’s not fair to take it out on someone who happens to have the same name as a scammers *fake* name. Obviously, the email search company gets the biggest blame, but if this guy follows up on the suit, he isn’t much better.

      • Jim Topoleski says:

        @kduhtoe: Why attack the person suing?

        Well if it wasnt for the fact she TRIED to settle things with him, I would say your right. But she went out of her way to contact him and straighten it out and he continued down this path. Thus at this point he deserves EVERYTHING he get.

        • frank64 says:

          @Jim Topoleski: Come on- the guy isn’t really going to show up. She doesn’t have to play any games. Before this goes to court I am sure he will figure things out.

          • katstermonster says:

            @frank64: Um, he wired $1200 to a random BoA account. I would argue that he definitely IS stupid enough to buy the plane ticket and show up. Better safe than sorry.

        • kduhtoe says:

          @Jim Topoleski: As mentioned in my previous post, it is highly likely the man in London is highly skeptical and not going to believe the OP. If you were scammed and the information you received pointed to me, would you believe me if I said it was not me. I agree the OP is acting a bit like an idiot, but he has already lost a significant amount of money. It would be enough for the OP to produce documents which clear her of any wrongdoing while the Brit wastes a trip to the US.

      • BluePlastic says:

        @kduhtoe: Well, but he has no reason to believe she IS the scammer. He has no right to be “skeptical” when he just basically pulled some random name out of a hat via Emailfinder.

        • kduhtoe says:

          @BluePlastic: In his mind (which probably isn’t the highest functioning), he has every reason to believe she IS the scammer. Not everyone has a grasp on how the internets work. He wired $1200 to someone for 6 iPhones! He then contracted, what he believes to be, a credible source for information identifying the scammer. If it is on the internets and you pay money for it, it must be legitimate, RIGHT?!

          I’m not saying the guy in London is not ignorant and a bit of an idiot. I still do not see how this justifies making his life a living hell.

          • David Eckert says:

            @kduhtoe: Well, welcome to teh internets :P

          • BluePlastic says:

            @kduhtoe: IMO he deserves to get burned a little for not reading the fine print from Emailfinder, i.e., we don’t guarantee this info to be accurate, and then taking the info and trying to make a court case out of it.

    • Bruce says:

      @David Eckert: Ohhh, that is *so* underhanded and I’m picturing the look of seething rage on the guy’s face when the court clerk informs him that his court date has been rescheduled to next month.

      Brilliant idea! I’m still laughing.

  26. bonzombiekitty says:

    (IANAL)

    While the standards of proof is lower in a civil case than in a criminal case, the onus is still on the guy from London to prove it was you. I would doubt something from emailfinder.com is going to be evidence to reasonably think it was you. There’s no basis to think emailfinder.com is a very good authority on the subject. He’s got to have something more; such as showing that the bank account in question actually belongs to you.

    Call BoA and ask for some proof that you never held an account with them. If you know a good techie guy, bring him in to explain how any services from emailfinder.com would be farfrom perfect and that it’s no proof at all that it was you. Also be sure to note that he broke the terms & conditions of the emailfinder.com – specifically part A which states “Our Products are restricted to U.S. customers and information only.” If he’s in London, then he’s not supposed to use it.

    Then counter sue him for any appropriate damages.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @bonzombiekitty: Edit: sorry, that’s part 1 of the terms & conditions of emailfinder.com, not part A

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @bonzombiekitty: Why does she have to contact BofA?? Where is the proof that she ever had an account there to refute in the first place?

      • IphtashuFitz says:

        @doctor_cos: She doesn’t have to, but any smart defendant certainly would. If you’re a defendant in a case where the plaintiff/prosecution claims you have a BoA account, don’t you think it would be in your best personal interest to have a letter from BoA themselves stating that you most certainly do not have an account with them?

  27. bohemian says:

    What is quite missing here is the total twit the guy in London is. He fell for the ipod scam and then he took the word of emailfinder.com that they found the right person. So he has now fallen for 2 scams that took his money and he is harassing a total stranger in another country over it. Someone please go cut this guy’s internet cable.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I would think the first course of action is to contact BoA and have them verify that the account to which this gentleman from London deposited the money into doesn’t belong to “Kim”. That’s going to be the official financial thing. As far as what Hotmail is going to give (being a free service where ANYONE can register with ANY information) is less credible and useful.

    With the BoA information in hand, I imagine that “Kim” can talk to the guy in London and convince him that he was scammed, but not by her and he was given the wrong info from emailfinder and he should continue searching for the scammer but leave her out of it..

  29. kexline says:

    Shouldn’t there be some way for the nitwit in London to subpoena BOA and force them to reveal the name on the account that received the wired funds?

  30. Petah says:

    At least how it works in NY, where I’ve been to SCC for similar circumstances…
    You do not need a lawyer, but simply a certified letter from BoA that you do not hold the account in question (or any account at that bank), a credit history and legal documents (birth certificate, passport etc) that show you’ve never been known by any other name, and a letter from Hotmail (if they keep they keep these records) with the name and location of whoever the owner of the account in question is. Pass this information on to the chap in London with a strong suggestion that he not expend the money in coming to court in the US, because he won’t get a dime. If he still insists on coming, send him a certified letter from your lawyer that you intend to counter-sue on the grounds recommended by your lawyer.

  31. Wit is periodically disensouled says:

    I don’t know what state Kim’s in, but if I was her, I’d probably talk to a lawyer, just in case, because that’s quite a bit of money on the line. It seems pretty clear to all of us that it’s not her, but we don’t know who the judge who’ll be hearing it is, and sometimes small town judges aren’t even attorneys. Definitely show up at the very least, though.

    To those suggesting motions to vacate: those don’t get filed unless a judgment has been taken, which it has not at this point.

  32. Allen Harkleroad says:

    INAL. However, litigation is not permissble use of a consumers credit reports. It is not a business to consumer transaction and a violation of the FCRA.

    “In the 1990 Commentary on the FCRA, the Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) stated that “[t]he possibility that a party may be involved in litigation involving a consumer does not provide a permissible purpose for that party to receive a consumer report on such consumer . . . because litigation is not a ‘business transaction’ involving the consumer.” 16 C.F.R. § 600 App., 55 Fed. Reg. 18804, 18816 (May 4, 1990). This statement extends to all aspects of litigation, including the pre-litigation discussions and settlement preparations that you describe, and was not altered by the recent amendments to the statute.”

  33. 2 replies says:

    I’m betting this’ll get thrown out of small claims REAL QUICK as there is no guarantee of accuracy for the information gathered by emailfinder.

  34. kim- says:

    I am the Kim referenced in this story.
    Just to clear up a few things:
    I refused the certified mail letters as they came to both my name and this person’s pseudonym. The only letter I have opened from the court was a regular first class mail letter.

    I did contact the guy who got scammed. He basically said “I have no proof that you are telling the truth and that you are not this person who stole my money”. Even though he was cordial enough, he claimed to be a retired lawyer who would know better than suing someone based on false information.

    Any other questions could be left in this thread. I appreciate all the help.

  35. ludwigk says:

    You can’t get travel expenses or lost wages awarded, as that’s the cost of participating in the legal process. If This person in London knew this, he certainly would not follow this method of remuneration. Of course, he could be a scammer and relies on his marks not knowing this.

    IANAL, but it seems like you have a lot ammo to fight back with. He has an email address, you show that its not yours. He sent money to a BoA account, you show that its not yours. He bought stuff from a scammy website, you show that its not yours. Good luck, and I hope this turns out in your favor.

  36. EdnaLegume says:

    whatever happens PLEASE UPDATE!!

  37. Tankueray says:

    After looking at the sites and postings associated with those accounts they are all very suspicious, and there is no good way to track them.

    I would suggest a nice letter to the hotmail/yahoo fraud departments requesting for a denial that any of her information matches up what they have on file. Making it clear she does not want the information, just that they have no record of her association. And a letter from BoA that she has never had an account.

    It’s hard to prove, and I also question the complainant’s motive for spending $3000 for a trip to the US just to go to small claims court over $1200.

    I would ask the judge to request from the complainant the methods that emailfinder used to acquire this information and link it to her. (The story mentions “emailfinder people say further investigation showed that she was either related to or WAS me”)

    Maybe also pay a lawyer to do an Intellus search on her to see what they come up with.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @Tankueray: A nice letter isn’t even necessary. As a defendant in a filed court case, Kim has the ability to issue subpoenas to obtain the desired information. It’s just a matter of going to the courthouse and asking for a little help from the court clerk. Usually it’s just a form you fill out and file for a small fee. And banks, ISPs like Yahoo & Hotmail, etc. are much more likely to respond to a legal subpoena than a nicely worded personal plea for help. In fact, many organizations like those will refuse to release any potentially confidential information without a subpoena.

  38. kim- says:

    also here is the website of the person running the scam, I found this out after the Londoner refused to tell me what website he “purchased” the iphones from:
    [www.iphone222.page.tl]

  39. Andr0 says:

    “I tried calling the small claims court but they said even if the claim was false I have to show up there and somehow prove that I did not take this man’s money.”

    Er…. hell, no? Doesn’t our glorious judicial system have the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ clause? Burden is on the plaintiff to prove that she -is- the person who scammed him, not the other way around.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      @Andr0: In civil proceedings it’s all about the preponderance of facts. “Innocent until proven guilty” only applies to criminal proceedings.

      I was once sued in small claims court (see a reply of mine near the bottom of the first page of comments). At least where I am, if only one of the parties shows up then a default judgment is filed in their favor. The assumption is that the other party isn’t contesting the suit. So she needs to show up just to avoid a summary judgment against her. Then, in an attempt to save time in front of a judge (again, at least in my state) the court clerks will attempt to mediate between the two parties. If one or both parties refuses mediation or it fails to achieve an acceptable outcome, only then do you actually go before a judge.

    • Wit is periodically disensouled says:

      @Andr0: Small claims court is often called “liar’s court” in legal circles. The standards are usually fairly lax. Mind you, different small claims courts are run in different ways and have different thresholds and other requirements. In some, no attorneys are allowed, in others, you can have them. In some, you have to pay a fee to make a counter-claim. Sometimes the judge is not a trained attorney either.

      The burden on the claimant is that he must prove his claim by a preponderance of the evidence, which pretty much means “more likely than not.”

      And, yes, if she doesn’t show up, she likely will have a default judgment entered against her without the claimant having to prove a darned thing.

  40. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I doubt that my bank would or could make a statement that I NEVER had an account with them. Their records aren’t that great and it would take too much manpower and time for them to make such a definitive determination.

    All the OP needs is a statement from BoA that she is not the account holder on account xxx that received the wired funds. That is a very specific statement that BoA should be able to easily research and make without any liability or margin of error.

  41. MarvinMar says:

    London guy also ignored very basic rules of the internet
    Never pay for stuff using Wire Transfers or WESTERN UNION!
    You get what you pay for
    Buyer Beware
    If it sounds to good to be true….It Is
    Always pay with a credit card
    Know who your dealing with
    Get references and verify satisfaction.
    The web is a wretched hive of scum and villainy

  42. WraithSama says:

    The Terms of Service for emailfinder.com clearly states that data they provide cannot be used to file a legal proceeding. Here is the relevant part of the ToS, note the last line:

    You may not: (a) use or permit the use of EmailFinder.com data to prepare an original database or a comparison to other databases that are sold, rented, published, or furnished in any manner to a third party; (b) use or permit the use of EmailFinder.com data for the purpose of compiling, enhancing, verifying, supplementing, adding to, deleting from or operating any telemarketing list, direct mail service, mailing list, business directory, or other compilation of information that is sold, rented, published, or furnished in any manner to a third party; or (c) voluntarily produce EmailFinder.com data in legal proceedings.

    • WraithSama says:

      @WraithSama:
      It should be noted that this guy ruined his own case by telling her where he got the data. Now all she has to do is point out the ToS in court, making his only source of information for filing the case invalid.

  43. okcancel says:

    Well, if he’s coming for a visit, the least you could do is send him some travel brochures for your city.

  44. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Travel costs to/from court are not compensable in small claims courts. I suspect that after digesting the phone call from the OP & reading this Consumerist thread that the plaintiff will not show up. The OP must show up however to avoid a default judgement against her.

  45. Skankingmike says:

    Isn’t everybody missing something here?

    This guy purchased illegal iphones and shipped them overseas. That violates lots of terms of use contracts between apple and what not. I would just carpet bomb apple with this case and have them deal with this idiot.

    I would hire a lawyer and counter sue like the others have suggested. DO not get a lawyer through the phone book. Now is the time that networking would pay off and word of mouth from trusted individuals. if you’re in NJ i know many lawyers who would be happy to consult with you.

  46. Knippschild says:

    This is why we need a global registry of people. Everyone in the world would be assigned a super unique ID alpha-number at birth and it’d be tattooed to their wrist. This way there’d be no confusion with same names!

    Since I’m the suggester, I get to request my own ID. I’ll be THX-1138.

    (sarcasm)

  47. kduhtoe says:

    Not yet, but I found a service called emailfinder.com which should reveal it.

  48. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    Doesn’t this guy realize that if she were actually the scammer she wouldn’t have called him in the first place? Plus, she would most likely skip town and not show up for the court date. Idiot.

  49. esarge says:

    Disclaimers first: I am not a lawyer. I did 3 Commercial Law papers as part of my Commerce degree in New Zealand (which has different case law but the principles of this will be the same).

    I suspect the complainant is trying it on a bit, and is very angry and trying to resolve that. I also suspect emailfinder will find out about this very quickly and will try and resolve some part of it from their end.

    Your first job is to attempt to negotiate your way out of this without having to deal with the court.
    Step 1: Ask the complainant for all the details of his case. You are entitled to see exactly what he intends to put in front of the judge. Do this in a written letter with a time limit. If he refuses then get the court to do it.
    You are entitled to see his complaint before you get to court so that you can prepare a case – otherwise this is known as trial by ambush.

    Step 2: Respond to his case, in a letter, with your evidence rebutting his case. I’d imagine his evidence would be the emailfinder report so follow up on previous posters suggestions of getting statements from the email provider that that address is not associated with your name. A statement from the bank will also be useful but difficult.
    Importantly: your letter should be headed “without prejudice” and you should ask him to withdraw his complaint as the evidence contained shows that your are not the person he seeks. For any sensible person they should then drop the case as it will be expensive to take to trial and their likelihood of success has dropped.
    I would try and do it in a way that deals with his emotions. He’s angry so try and get on his side and redirect him somewhere else.

    Step 3: If that fails then you’re prepared for court anyway. Prepare a logical argument responding to his complaint showing that you are not associated with that email address nor that bank account.

    Other actions:
    Other posters have pointed out that the emailfinder terms of service prevent use of the information in court proceedings. Well, great – but this doesn’t help you much. The terms of service are between emailfinder and the complainant – you’re not involved. I would still show the terms of service to the judge to show that his evidence is not considered reliable even by the provider of it.

    I would also contact emailfinder and say that it appears that the complainant is breaching their terms of service and that they should take some action. I would also politely ask them, by letter, to no longer report your name as being associated with the email address.

    You could think about taking or threatening legal action against emailfinder. However, I wouldn’t advise as it would be expensive, stressful and only slightly likely to succeed. You might have a cause of action in defamation because they have associated your name with a scammer’s email address. However, you’d probably have to establish that they knew the email address was that of a scammer – which would be difficult. However, the letter mentioned above would put them on notice of that and therefore *future* publication could be grounds for a cause of action. i.e. they are publishing information that brings your name into disrepute.

    Don’t make a legal threat unless you are prepared to follow through.

  50. Lolotehe says:

    Why does she have to prove it isn’t her? You can’t prove a negative, and the onus is on him to prove it IS her.

  51. lehrdude says:

    Why doesn’t OP hire emailfinder to do a background check on the judge so that he/she can see for themselves what a load of BS the the guy is basing his lawsuit on…

    She can tack the cost of that search on to costs for her countersuit.

  52. Julia789 says:

    Libel and slander laws in the UK would work to this lady’s advantage, they are set up in favor of the accuser from the start. She could sue him there. He would basically have to prove he DIDN’T ruin her good name, rather then she prove he did. And her good name is now on PUBLIC RECORDS in her state, permanently stating she is an accused scammer, which could affect future employment, credit scores, etc. (This is my understanding of UK law, based on a couple of cases I’ve seen.)

  53. Ben Miner says:

    How in the world are you supposed to prove you DID NOT do something?

  54. pwillow1 says:

    My two cents: I had an eBay seller threaten to sue me for negative feedback. (Yes, he was an asshat.) He had a long history of going after customers for stupid stuff like this and regaled me in email after email about how I was going to lose everything I owned because I had left negative feedback for him. He had quite a background in suing people and could talk a convincing story, and had all sorts of legal disclaimers on his eBay auction pages about how if someone purchased something from him, they consented to have him determine the venue of any lawsuit that might proceed, etc. etc.

    I called the courthouse in the jurisdiction he was going to sue me in (which was halfway across the country) and was told by the court clerk that in order for the claim to proceed in small claims court, the defendant had to consent to the jurisdiction (I believe they called it a “venue.”) If the defendant — that’s me — didn’t consent to the venue, then the case was dismissed. Didn’t matter what conditions the plaintiff imposed on the sale — if the defendant didn’t agree to the venue, the case couldn’t proceed.

    I emailed this jerk back and told him to go ahead and sue me.

    I would suggest that this woman who is being sued contact the court clerk in the jurisdiction this lawsuit is filed and find out if they allow her to deny the venue.

    I’m impressed with the quality of the responses here on Consumerist. I always learn a lot by what people write, even those who claim they aren’t lawyers!

    • Wit is periodically disensouled says:

      @pwillow1: “I came home to find two certified mail notices from my town’s small claims court”

      He is suing her in her town and it looks like she was served properly. The venue is proper and they appear to have personal jurisdiction over her. This is different from your situation, where you did not reside in, nor were you served in the state you were being sued in.

    • fantomesq says:

      @pwillow1: More to the point why would she want to contest the venue? It is a perfect venue for her – its in her backyard. Any evidence and or witnesses are also in her backyard. Challenging venue would probably fail, it would delay her case and may make it look like she was trying to win on technicalities as opposed to on the merits. No, she’ll have her day in court and he’ll have egg on his face after tripling the damages of the original iPhone fraud.

  55. Ryan Paige says:

    Emailfinder.com seems like a bit of a scam to me. I just put in an email address that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist (my 3-month old daughter’s first name with a domain that I “own” but don’t really use). Their site immediately came up claiming to have the email owner’s name, address, occupation, etc.

    I’m not about to pay them $14.95 to find out who they came up with for that non-existent email, but I’d be surprised if it actually said “We couldn’t find anybody with that email address after the “sign up” screen specifically said that they could).

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Ryan Paige: good point! i just checked and i know for a fact that this email address doesn’t exist [since i own and use the domain]:

      “To View These Results, You Must Be An EmailFinder.com Member”

      Get a risk-free membership to unlock your full search results for catastrophegirl@catastrophegirl.com. Full results include available information for:

      * Owner’s Name & Address
      * Phone Number
      * Social Networks
      * Photo
      * Places On The Web
      * Occupation
      * And Much More!

      Click the “View Results” button to get started!

    • SacraBos says:

      @Ryan Paige: I checked for zuzu.petals@example.com, and for $14.95 I can get the name, address, phone, pictures, occupation, and more for this person.

      Which would really be odd, since @example.com is a reserved domain and isn’t valid as an E-mail address. It’s impossible for anyone to have that E-mail address.

      Scam? Well, I’ll just leave that to the reader.

    • Skaperen says:

      @Ryan Paige: Their terms and conditions exclude using their data for legal proceedings, anyway … in addition to asserting that they are not necessarily accurate. Kim should include in her defense a copy of those terms to show that even emailfinder.com admits publicly of the inaccuracy, and even that its information is not of legal process quality.

  56. Tim says:

    This is so buried in the comments no one will probably see it, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

    This is what the OP should do (also, IANAL):

    1. Write an official-sounding letter to the guy explaining all the reasons why he is wrong. Ask him to drop the lawsuit and give him a deadline to do so. Explain that if he has not dropped the lawsuit in that amount of time, you will fight the lawsuit to the full extent of the law and pursue him for all costs associated with your defense, including attorney’s fees, travel, etc. I don’t know if you can do this internationally, but find a way to return receipt this or something.

    1.1 CC his lawyer.

    2. If you don’t hear back from him by the deadline, find a lawyer.

    3. Document EVERYTHING. In fact, when you spoke to him on the phone, you probably should have recorded it. You never know when you might need that information. In fact, you probably will need the information.

    3.1 Document all your costs associated with your defense, down to the costs of mailing these things.

    4. Sue him for the expenses related to defending yourself.

    5. Don’t forget to bring up your privacy concerns with your lawyer. There might be something significant there.

    Once again, IANAL.

    • SacraBos says:

      @TCama: I saw it!

    • Skaperen says:

      @TCama: Another step she can do is file a motion with the court to ask the court to require the plaintiff to place her estimated defense costs into an escrow account to be empowered to the court. She should do this along with a counter suit for costs and damages. In the motion she should explain that since the plaintiff is outside the jurisdiction of this court, and further outside the jurisdiction of the US Federal Court system, and that such a person would otherwise have a “free hand” at using the courts to frivolously cause costs and damages to others without being at much risk himself, he should be compelled to place the estimated defense costs in escrow as a requirement for the case to proceed, and that failing to do so within an ordered time frame should result in a dismissal with prejudice.

  57. Smashville says:

    3 pages and no one blamed the OP.

    I’ll try…

    This never would have happened if you lived completely off the grid.

    • runswithscissors says:

      @Smashville:
      Excellent. I read the article and thought “OK, now how on earth are the commenters going to blame the OP on this one?”. I couldn’t figure one out and so read through all 3 pages of comments. And so far no one has (your present joking the exception of course).

      I am very disappointed commenters! I’ve come to rely on the fact that someone will somehow pin the whole thing on the OP in EVERY article.

      My faith is shaken.

  58. BritBoy says:

    It sounds like the OP has been in contact with the scam victim in the UK.

    OP : call the victim and quickly and politely explain this is a case of mistaken identity and that he has little to no evidence to link you to the scam. Offer this : he will incur cost and time traveling to the court and his case will certainly be thrown out for lack of evidence and lack of prove of identity. Save yourself the time and money and drop the case. Sympathize with his situation but explain he is not going to get it resolved by summoning the wrong person !
    Frankly its unlikely he would show anyway; to prepare for this though you should likely provide some evidence of
    1) how emailfinder.com provides nothing more than ‘as-is’, unverified data.
    2) several examples of obviously erroneous data from emailfinder.com. For example, try searching for ‘president@whitehouse.gov’ or some_minor.celebrity@gmail.com and see what happens. You only need a few obviously wrong results to defend against his so called ‘evidence of identity’.

  59. Saboth says:

    How is it legal that this company gave a stranger the OP’s full Credit report and history? Seems like a good way to get info for identity theft.

  60. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Caveat Emptor! He should have thought twice about the whole thing before sending his money.

    Assuming she is above board, the guy in the UK is in for a rough ride. She could reasonably assume this is a scam by him to get her to pay his way to the US to commit a crime… fraud. Does anyone smell jail time for this guy?

  61. ShruggingGalt says:

    Umm I’m surprised that no one thought of this angle: The UK guy now has a case on the books. If he is smart, he now can serve discovery on Bank of America and determine who the truly guilty party is. I know CA allows discovery in Small Claims, not sure about the OP’s state, but it’s an idea….

    Otherwise I doubt the judge will give the UK guy his travel expenses, so he’s going to lose unless she doesn’t show up.

    • frank64 says:

      @ShruggingGalt: There should be some way that he could be helped by law enforcement. Internet fraud and especially international internet fraud seems far to easy to get away with, especially when the bank and account number can be known and not even investigated?

      This seems to the bigger issue. OP’s will be OK, but the original victim seems to have the cards stacked against him by the law not doing much to help him.

      • Skaperen says:

        @frank64: The problem is, there are too many of these cases to investigate for the purpose of recovering individual loses. Law enforcement investigation focuses on the larger cases where the costs of investigating can be more effective in the value of the end results.

        If the FTC were to carry out a full investigation and loss recovery for every domestic ripoff that happened, they’d be spending way more than the current federal government budget, and something closer to the gross domestic product value.

        What might help is stiffer penalties for scammers and con artists. Continuous waterboarding for 10 years comes to mind.

    • H3ion says:

      @ShruggingGalt: @ShruggingGalt: California is probably an exception. Most small claims courts don’t have discovery, motion practice, and many of the other things we expect in the civil courts. Also, unless BoA is a party, it’s doubtful that he could discovery even in California.

  62. H3ion says:

    It looks like emailfinder probably violated a whole host of laws, but to get out of the present predicament, I would suggest the OP obtain a certified copy of her birth certificate and, if she changed her name at the time of marriage, her marriage license. A passport might also be useful. All this to show that she is not the person the plaintiff is complaining about. She should bring all this evidence to the court hearing. The court will also take her testimony that she never heard of this London guy or any of the other names, and that emailfinder is about as useful a source of evidence as bringing in a phone book.

    If she could obtain any discovery (or even convince the plaintiff that he’s wasting time and money) she could get BoA to provide some writing that the name on the wire account was not her.

  63. redrolla says:

    If I were her, I would not just be worried about the small claims court. This guy is obviously a nut and very, very pissed off that he got scammed by her, he believes. He now has her name, address and an exact date and time that she will not be home. If he doesn’t think the case will go his way and knows she has to show up, he may try to recoup his money in other ways.

  64. parad0x360 says:

    Wait she has to prove its not her? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    This whole case is built on an email address from a service that uses online profiles to best guess the results. Burden of proof should fall on the guy and she should sue his ass for wasting her time and putting her through this stress.

    I hope we get updated on this case because this is nothing short of insane.

  65. econobiker says:

    Just how does someone from the UK file a small claims court case remotely?

    If it was this easy you will see hords of Nigerians filing cases on unsuspecting people and offering to not show up for $XXXX amount.

    I also have knowledge of a European couple who was ripped off by a US motorcycle vendor to the tune of about $12-15K. If I had known it was that easy to file a claim I would have told them to do that…

  66. JohnMc says:

    Kim really needs to contact a lawyer or go talk to a legal clinic. Either can advise her what to do, properly. The key here is what State this is being pursued in as dartmouth05 intones. Out here in many of the SW States, one may only recover money damages and court costs. A small claims court may not compel action on another party, that requires superior court.

    Since the guy has the burden of proof the simplest defense is to offer up an inventory of the computers Kim owns with the MAC address of each machine. Its not solid but it triggers the judge to ask the question do you have this data? He won’t and that places the judge in the position to question everything else the guy says.

  67. Hobz says:

    Out of curiosity, did you call the small claims court to verify that in deed there had been a claim made against you? This seems so very suspicious that;

    A.) Someone would use a service like emailfinder to locate someone based off of a Yahoo or Hotmail account and attempt to sue them.

    B.) That someone buying 6 iPhones wouldn’t know a scam if he saw it and the risks involved.

    C.) The one being scammed would think the scammer would call them back to say “Hey it’s not me…” is actually the scammer trying to get out it?!?!?!

  68. snclfe says:

    Kim, I would start by contacting BofA and trying to get an affidavit stating you are not the account holder on the account the money was wired to. I would then present this to the British dolt/scam-ee. Finally, I think you should both take legal action against emailfinder who has clearly wronged you both.

  69. Anonymous says:

    I might have missed it in the melee, but did anyone suggest the possibility that the guy in London is the scammer? Invest a little dough in a scary sounding though implausible lawsuit and try to frighten someone into settling. If i was a shaky old rich person I might be willing to pay $500 to make this go away.

  70. donovanr says:

    Countersuit countersuit countersuit. I would say $500 sounds reasonable.

  71. BeThisWay says:

    Call Judge Judy!

  72. lehrdude says:

    When someone in London accuses you of scamming them out of $1200 and then links to you through an even scam-ier email finding service, don’t take the law into your own hands…You take ‘em to Court!

  73. robotrevolution says:

    She should take emailfriendfinder or whatever the company was that sold her info to court! Sue the pants off them!

  74. Felix the Cat says:

    2words: Judge Judy

  75. MrEvil says:

    I would say show up in court since its local because the worst that could happen is that the judge rules in the plaintiff’s failure. However if you don’t show the judge will award a DEFAULT judgement in the plaintiff’s favor.

    Basically when you show up, all you’d have to declare to the judge is that you were not the owner of said bank account. If the Plaintiff did not subpoena that information from Bank of America he cannot prove that it was you whom owned the account. Also, the fact that you are erroneously claimed to be related to the person that scammed him IMPARTS NO OBLIGATION ON YOU TO PAY HIM ANYTHING. He should be suing your “relative” not you.

    The Plaintiff does have to prove that he’s suing the proper party and his evidence that you are the proper party is about as strong as wet toilet paper.

    • frank64 says:

      @MrEvil: I think subsequent conversations might bring an epiphany to the victim.

      Could he officially ask that the case be dismissed and with proper legal notification, maybe the OP will not have to show up?

  76. outlulz says:

    It’s small claims court so she can probably go without a lawyer for now. She should try filing a Motion to Dismiss herself as a defendant on the basis that she is not the person involved and see what the judge says. In any rate, the person suing her is going to be held accountable for her attorney fees for not doing due diligence and better research. This is exactly why law offices use private investigators for this sort of thing and not random websites.

  77. John Pettitt says:

    This whole thing smells like a con – who does she know there ever was any money set to B of A – maybe this guys is filing random small claims suits in different locations in the hope of finding a sucker who will settle.

  78. baristabrawl says:

    Okay, so what if the scam is actually the guy trying to get her to respond to him so he can steal her identity?

    I say wait until he shows up in small claims court and then smash his sack into the dirt. If he doesn’t show up she’s only out time.

  79. jwissick says:

    Make him prove jurisdiction for the court. I would say that what ever court he filed in does not have jurisdiction in this case.

  80. MissGayle says:

    First off, you will have to hire an attorney and subponea someone at Bank of America to come testify that you never had an account with them.

    Next, sue the pants off of the people search firm that gave him the false information.

  81. DaveDidNotPay says:

    I think most people recognize a scam when they see it nowdays. This guy sounds like he’s too proud to just take his loss and admit that he did something foolish.

    Now he’s going to be out more money than he was in the first place not to mention all the time he is investing in trying to catch a scammer- someone who is likely much more intelligent than he is.

    Burden of proof should be on the guy who is getting scammed.

  82. Anonymous says:

    He’s from Britian? Tell him if he loses, you’ll sue him for libel in British Courts. Go read up on British libel rules. He has to prove he didn’t libel or slander you, unlike anywhere else in the world where you have to prove he did. It’s a libel-court-case mecca in britian.
    Serioulsy, I bet one threat and this is all gone.

  83. kim- says:

    I am the OP.
    I have talked to several attorneys at this point and the general consensus is to go in with guns blazing to prove this is not me.
    I have attempted to contact the Attorney General’s office in NY with no luck.
    I live in Rochester, NY and this is where he is suing me in Small Claims court.

    When I spoke with the Londoner on the phone, he stated that he already had his tickets and that he picked such a far away date because he has to fly from London.
    Not only that… he also is “seriously ill” and has to bring with him (and pay for) a full time nurse as “the airlines won’t let [him] fly alone” due to health conditions. I’ve never heard of an airline demanding this.
    I tried explaining to him that if i WERE the scammer, why would I call him to try to clear my name? He just kept saying that he would like to believe me but he has no proof I am not Jennifer Simpson. I told him that the scammer is probably not even named Jennifer Simpson, and it’s most likely a group of people who scammed him.

    I called him on my own dime, he said he has “free international rates” and called me back and we talked for about 45 minutes. Nothing was resolved except for him giving me the emailfinder.com info and reading off all those personal documents about me.

    He claims to be a retired lawyer in the UK living on a pension. So where did he get this $1200 for 6 iphones? And why was he buying 6 iphones from a scammer?

    Here is the page of the scammer he bought them from:
    [www.iphone222.page.tl]

    If there are any other questions I will answer them in this thread.

    I do NOT have the account number he wired this money to. So I cannot get an affadavit from BoA.

    • floraposte says:

      @kim-: This sounds like a genuine internet crazy, of the unfortunate kind who actually spends money on his craziness. I would say there’s still a chance he may not want to haul himself over the ocean, but obviously you can’t gamble on this. Good luck.

    • Anonymous says:

      @kim-: Were he a smart man he’d be suspicious of an international business supposedly based out of Rochester using a free web host in East Timor. As trying as this must be, it looks highly unlikely that he’d be able to win such a ludicrous case unless it had a dangerously incompetent judge. If he really is an old man (and his statements about the airline “requiring” a nurse on the flight are somewhat sketchy) he could be under the impression that this service he used would produce strong evidence (i.e. if he believes that all email addresses must be registered to real names, etc.). But that is highly unlikely, and if he is a retired lawyer, he should know how stupid all of this is.

  84. kim- says:

    am the OP.
    I have talked to several attorneys at this point and the general consensus is to go in with guns blazing to prove this is not me.
    I have attempted to contact the Attorney General’s office in NY with no luck.
    I live in Rochester, NY and this is where he is suing me in Small Claims court.

    When I spoke with the Londoner on the phone, he stated that he already had his tickets and that he picked such a far away date because he has to fly from London.
    Not only that… he also is “seriously ill” and has to bring with him (and pay for) a full time nurse as “the airlines won’t let [him] fly alone” due to health conditions. I’ve never heard of an airline demanding this.
    I tried explaining to him that if i WERE the scammer, why would I call him to try to clear my name? He just kept saying that he would like to believe me but he has no proof I am not Jennifer Simpson. I told him that the scammer is probably not even named Jennifer Simpson, and it’s most likely a group of people who scammed him.

    I called him on my own dime, he said he has “free international rates” and called me back and we talked for about 45 minutes. Nothing was resolved except for him giving me the emailfinder.com info and reading off all those personal documents about me.

    He claims to be a retired lawyer in the UK living on a pension. So where did he get this $1200 for 6 iphones? And why was he buying 6 iphones from a scammer?

    Here is the page of the scammer he bought them from:
    [www.iphone222.page.tl]

    If there are any other questions I will answer them in this thread.

    I do NOT have the account number he wired this money to. So I cannot get an affadavit from BoA.

  85. Bill19014 says:

    One other consideration is that emailfinder.com is engaging in the “business” of conducting private investigations without a license. I found that the web site is registered to “People Finder Media” in California, and according to CA, there is no such company holding a PI license. You can look for a CA license at [www.bsis.ca.gov] and also contact the agency there that enforces PI licensing laws in CA. You’ve already been in touch with the New York Attorney General; you may want to ask them about the status of this company in New York, since they deal with unlicensed investigators in New York. You could also try Scotland Yard since the “investigation” was ordered from the U.K., but it’s probably not worth the hassle.

    This is a textbook example of why there are private investigation licensing laws–and the problem with unaccountable web-based “information brokers”.

    Were I you, I would also make the point in court that the folks who connected you to the e-mail address appear to be unlicensed to conduct investigations, advertise no actual qualifications that would indicate that they can do what they claim they can do, and illegally accessed your credit report (assuming you can demonstrate this based on what the English guy has provided to you).

    Good luck!

    • nickje says:

      @Bill19014: I used to work at a company in Los Angeles that accessed similar information about people. You do not need a PI license in California to find the information they obtained; it’s all in the public record. And it makes sense that they would include info like a list of people who lived at that address before she did – to bulk up the “report.” Basically, they sold this guy a list of information you can find for free online. The only one I’m not sure about is the full credit report, since the company I worked at didn’t deal with that kind of info. But you’d be surprised how much information you can find in public documents. You can obtain almost everything except a full Social Security number, and even then you can usually access a partial SSN (usually the last 4 digits, if I remember right).

      So unfortunately, it looks like everything that company did was completely legal, if morally wrong. There are lots of companies that charge people to find freely accessible information (and that’s why I left the one I worked at). Once or twice someone would call the DA’s office on my company, but we were always allowed to operate because of the nature of the information we had. I’m sure the same thing has happened to this company, with the same results. This is also why this company’s terms of service are so full of disclaimers, so they can’t be held accountable for how the information they find is used. Again, this is totally morally wrong, but legally it looks clean.

      • Bill19014 says:

        @nickje: Well, there are several problems with this, one of which goes along with the very nature of the internet: in this case, the company doing the investigation is in one state, they’re running their business in another state, the subject of the investigation is in another, and the subject is in another country altogether. I don’t have the CA law handy, but I can tell you that in many states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, for example, locating an individual for pay would fall under the legal definition of a private investigation.

        You should also be aware that just because something is available in the public record, that doesn’t mean that obtaining it and providing it to a client wouldn’t run afoul of PI licensing laws or other laws. For instance, a criminal case that does not result in a conviction is a public record, but reporting it to a prospective employer could be a violation of the law.

        If a full credit report was indeed provided, then that would violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

  86. Bs Baldwin says:

    Is this on fark yet? It should be.

  87. Jason Gordon says:

    Maybe you should try to place a dummy order with that site, get the account # and get the bank to send a letter that it is not you that holds it.
    Other than that, I would focus on the fact that this whole connection to you is based on a random name entered in an unverified email provider.

  88. JessicaJessica says:

    Add the email company as a co-defendant and/or sue them separately. Their negligence directly caused you to be sued. Good luck!

  89. Jamie Hel Collins says:

    Emailfinder is a fraudulent website. That’s all the information you need against him.

    • Jamie Hel Collins says:

      @Jamie Hel Collins: well of course it’s not all, but the root of your hassles is attributed to this website. I agree with Bill19014.

      Any note from BoA that they do not hold any accounts under your name is good enough evidence that you do not have a BoA account. Nobody can open an account without legit information that the bank cannot verify. If you write them, I bet they’d write back.

      Finally, sue emailfinder.com. If you have some extra money, try and play around with their website and see if you can get legit information about your friends or whoever you can think of. This only proves how easy it is for this site to giveaway personal information about any individual. Think “identity theft”.

      Just a thought: What if this guy’s a scammer too?