NEW YORK (WABC) --As a public school Assistant Principal, Celia Foster's seen and heard every trick in the book, but worries about others getting reeled into a rodent control hoax soliciting money.
"I thought about the elderly. I thought about my mom who would see something like this and immediately write a check and pay," Foster said.
The New York City property owner smelled a rat and alerted 7 On Your Side about the phony notice which came in the mail last week, instructing her within "1-15 days to send $120." That's a whopping $280 if later, or else get hauled into court and risk a lien or as the scammer stupidly misspelled twice a L-E-I-N, on her property.
People were instructed to mail their payment to "Vermin Control of New York." But all that's at the location is a mail drop and it's not even open anymore.
Other businesses who share the complex address say they learned about the rodent ruse from confused homeowners calling their offices with questions.
"I looked at it and notice and saw this it was obviously a scam and a fraud everybody I alerted everybody I could, including the postal inspector," said George Kosnik, a lawyer.
Kosnik's legal eagle-eye caught a big boo-boo, the swindler slapped a NYC Health logo at the top. But the letter's allegedly signed by Robert Limandry Commissioner of Buildings, not only is his name spelled wrong, he's the former commissioner, gone from that post for years.
Joseph Klein says half a dozen people called him looking for "Vermin Control of New York" before he closed his print shop and mail drop last week, but he remembers the now postal fraud suspect who rented the mailbox under that name was expecting a windfall.
"He told me I was going to be getting a lot of return mail," Klein said.
It may have worked until our whistleblowers took action, fact-checking first.
"I want to thank Channel 7 for getting the word out about these people," Foster said. "Because again, there's a special place for them."
The school administrator's grade for the fledgling scam artist? "I would give them an F, it's a messy letter filled with grammatical errors."
The U.S. Postal Inspector's detectives were actively investigating this fraud, at the same time we were. If anyone receives a notice, please bring it to your local post office and ask them to forward it to the USPS inspector, and of course don't send any money!
The big takeaways, if you receive a letter asking you for money Google the address. This mailings return address is in Albany and doesn't exist. Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Call the agency directly, before you send any money. This number was out of service.