Postal inspectors say Stuart Cole and Mark Simpson were more concerned about money than they were about children.
The duo set up various businesses including 'child support services' to collect child support payments and keep the money for themselves.
“Their business would come up first in Internet search,” says Sheryl Bouer, US Postal Inspector. “The custodial parent might reach out to them thinking they are a government agency, the majority of the time that is what they actually believed.”
The crucial step in this scam…
“Get the information from the custodial parent about the non-custodial parent. Name, date of birth , where they live, their employer,” says Bouer.
The group would then go after the non-custodial parent using threats, and intimidation often starting with a letter.
“If you would like this to go away, you can contact us at the number provided. That was the first mailing, if they didn`t get a response to that then they would tell them that your driver’s license was suspended, then the next one would say an arrest warrant has been issued,” says Bouer.
Sometimes they would send a letter to the victim’s work place.
“Send it to the employer and make that employer deducting money from their paycheck,” says Bauer.
Meanwhile the duo would charge both the custodial and non-custodial parent outrageous fees.
“The custodial parent knew that there was a percentage that child support services would typically take, but they did not know how much. Typically, it was 33%.
Inspectors say more than 200 victims lost between two and a half to three million dollars in this scheme.
Some advice from postal inspectors: read through all correspondence and don`t immediately panic.
“It`s important to read all of the fine print. In these contracts at the very end in very fine print that this was a private child collecting agency,” says Bouer.
Experts say you should avoid using private businesses to make your child support payments, always go through state agencies. Stuart Cole and Mark Simpson were sentenced to more than a year in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charges.