Strawman fraudsters offer access to secret cash stash: Internet Scambusters #470
The notion that the US Treasury holds a secret cash stash in your name underlies a scam known as strawman fraud.
Crooks claim not only that they can help you gain access to the account but also that you can make purchases and pay debts just by scrawling a few words across bills.
This week, we explain the story behind the strawman legend and how you can avoid being duped by the tricksters.
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Let's get started...
Don't Fall for this Strawman Scam
Although he was a likeable character in The Wizard of Oz movie, the strawman is a much more sinister figure when it comes to scams and fraud.
While the Oz creation was just a softhearted and lovable scarecrow, the strawman, in some people's minds, is a symbol for a separate, alternative version of our personal identities.
Without going into all the complexities, the basis of the strawman concept is a belief that somehow the United States government has "mortgaged" its citizens to the International Monetary Fund in return for a sizeable cash sum.
With every birth -- cha-ching! -- the IMF supposedly pays the US Treasury around $600,000. This money, so the argument goes, is held in your strawman account and, if you can only access it, you can redeem it to pay bills, and enjoy lots of other secret benefits.
That's why proponents of this idea also refer to this as your strawman redemption account.
The redemption process is also sometimes labeled as "Acceptance for Value" or "A4V," implying if you use this term on any official bills you're supposed to pay, it's as good as cash.
Stay with us on this while we explain a little more.
The distinguishing feature between you and your strawman is that the strawman identity held by the US Treasury in the form of a tradable bond uses only capital letters for your full name.
The judiciary, law enforcement and other key figures are said to be in on this secret and, if you provide your name in all capital letters, you're also recognized as being "in the know," with access to your strawman account.
Furthermore, say believers, if you use all capital names on a document, it is not legally binding.
Now, while all of this sounds far-fetched -- and we don't intend to enter the frivolous debate about that -- the real causes for concern are the operations of fraudsters who charge good money to supposedly help you find the way through the system to access your strawman redemption account.
They peddle training kits, books, tapes and DVDs and even offer consultations at $100 an hour. If you're interested in joining their little scam, you can pay them another $100 to become an affiliate, picking up a commission each time they make a sale through you.
Once you're convinced about your strawman redemption account, you need a whole set of forms, both for gaining access to the supposed account and for making payments drawn on the account.
And, of course, the scammers happen to have a huge stock of these from which they'll happily sell you what they say you need.
If you send the Treasury your forms, which are a mixture of bogus documents dressed up with semi-legal mumbo jumbo, and genuine IRS forms (though not legitimate for this particular use), your claim will be swiftly and curtly dismissed.
But the fraudsters, if you happen to know how to contact them again, will claim you've submitted the forms in the wrong order or that you made a mistake filling them in.
And, if you try to use any of the payment documents, you'll pretty quickly find yourself in hot water.
If you think all this sounds unbelievable, it's worth knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of these applications have been submitted by US citizens, while many more individuals have ended up in court for using documents for tax avoidance or even big ticket purchases.
Some of the scammers have been jailed.
And, just to be clear: There has never been a single verifiable case of anybody identifying the existence of a secret Treasury account in their name, let alone getting their hands on any of this mythical money.
Plus, of course, it's never clear how, if you've been sold into serfdom to the IMF, who's making the mortgage payments!
And where does the IMF, whose founding was largely influenced by the US, get its $600,000 payments from? Think about that.
The strawman redemption scam is one of those things that might seem amusing if it wasn't so serious. Serious enough for the FBI to issue an alert.
Here's what they say:
"This scheme predominately uses fraudulent financial documents that appear to be legitimate. These documents are frequently referred to as 'bills of exchange,' 'promissory bonds,' 'indemnity bonds,' 'offset bonds,' 'sight drafts,' or 'comptrollers warrants.'
"In addition, other official documents are used outside of their intended purpose, like IRS forms 1099, 1099-OID, and 8300. This scheme frequently intermingles legal and pseudo legal terminology in order to appear lawful. Notaries may be used in an attempt to make the fraud appear legitimate."
Avoiding this type of fraud is just a matter of ignoring people who make these claims, sell materials they say will help you get at your strawman account, say you don't have to pay your income tax, or claim you can make a payment simply by writing "acceptance for value" on the bill.
You can read the FBI alert on the Bureau's fraud page, Common Fraud Schemes, which also covers a number of other scam topics.
And, if you ever do encounter the strawman, it'll most likely be on the Yellow Brick Road!
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!