Friday, July 7, 2006

River outfitters uncover scam

Bogus check and money order sent to pay for Salmon trip


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

When a supposed British couple sent Sawtooth Adventure Co. more than $8,000 to pay for a $2,600 Salmon River trip, company owners Erich Hamm and Jared Hopkinson thought they smelled something fishy.

They were right, too. A cashiers check and a U.S. postal money order sent to pay for the trip turned out to be bogus.

"Although this is our first season on the Salmon River, and we are hungry for business, we resisted the urge to act quickly to accommodate their requests," Hopkinson said.

The request was that Sawtooth Adventure Co. send the supposed British couple a check for the overpayment. And they wanted it quickly, too, Hopkinson said, claiming they needed the money for airplane reservations.

"Another clue to the scam was the urgency in which they wanted us to send the remaining balance via Western Union," he said.

Instead, Hopkinson and Hamm contacted their bank and U.S. Post Office authorities. Both the cashiers check for $4,000 and the postal money order for $4,250 turned out to be counterfeit, Hopkinson said. Both items were turned over to the Postal Service, which is investigating the case because the check and money order were mailed to Sawtooth Adventure through the U.S. mail.

Hopkinson said the supposed British couple, who were very polite and professional in their dealings with Sawtooth Adventure, were likely professional scam artists who thought they could take advantage of a company located in the backwoods of Idaho and far away from its bank.

Located in Stanley, Hopkinson said Sawtooth Adventure has been in business for six years but only expanded into Salmon River trips this year.

He said he and Hamm want their experience publicized to remind people to be on their guard against scams.

"We hope this warning will help fellow business owners to be aware of the different types of rip-off scams they might experience out in cyberspace," Hopkinson said.




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