The e-mail arrived two weeks ago.

“I am a Nanny/Babysitter,” it read, “looking for a live out position starting ASAP.”

It was from a woman named Flavia Wasescha. She was responding to an ad on Craigslist posted by Venus Clemons, who was looking for a baby sitter for her 18-month-old son, Jamie.

Ms. Clemons replied with an e-mail that practically sighed with relief. Yes, the position was still open. She was away, she wrote: Her mother had died two weeks earlier, in England, and she was there with Jamie for a little while longer before returning to New York and her engineer husband, Artis. They were originally from California.

She apologized in advance for a long list of questions that she wanted Ms. Wasescha to answer. “A child is not what you leave in the care of just anyone,” she wrote.

Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you like pets? Do you know CPR? There were 24 questions in all.

Ms. Wasescha replied, expressing condolences on Ms. Clemons’s loss and introducing herself as a 26-year-old immigrant from Switzerland. She had lived and worked in the New York City suburb Hastings-on-Hudson since 2009, and had recently married her boyfriend.

She did not smoke, drank occasionally, was eager and willing to learn CPR and spoke two dialects of German as well as English, and with a few refresher lessons, “I think I could have a conversation in French as well,” she wrote.

The back and forth continued. Ms. Clemons thanked the nanny for her time in filling out the questionnaire and promised a quick decision, as her husband was leaving for China on business very soon and wanted this sorted out. She gave her cellphone number for texting and attached a family portrait, all wide smiles outside a stucco house in California, and two photos of the little boy. In one, he wore a cute costume in the backyard, with claws and horns and three googly eyeballs.

The nanny wrote, “You have a cute little monster :) .” She attached a picture of herself hugging a giant M&M.

The decision came the following day. “Congratulations to you,” Ms. Clemons wrote. “You have the position as you seem nice and very sincere.” The nanny could start as soon as Ms. Clemons and Jamie returned from England. “We all look forward to having you join our family,” she wrote. Her husband’s assistant would mail a check for the first week’s pay to Ms. Wasescha’s home.

The nanny replied, “I will not disappoint you!” She said she did not have a bank account but would open one soon.

Ms. Clemons sent her flight itinerary from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. She and Jamie would be home the following Wednesday, Sept. 5. Ms. Wasescha suggested that they meet the next day, and Ms. Clemons agreed.

The scam was going perfectly.

Ms. Clemons wrote the day before the flight. Had the check arrived? There has been a mistake, she said. Her husband’s assistant, named Kuan, had sent the week’s pay of $900, as agreed, but had also mistakenly added Ms. Clemons’s airfare, for a total of $2,980.

Ms. Wasescha confirmed that yes, the check had arrived, in the unexpectedly large sum. “What can we do?” she asked. “How can I send you that money?”

Keep your $900 and send me the rest, Ms. Clemons suggested.

Wait, Ms. Wasescha said. I never deposited this check. Tell Kuan to send you the money himself. And by the way, don’t you have a credit card?

“Wow,” Ms. Clemons replied. “You sound really cold.”

Ms. Wasescha never heard another word from Venus Clemons. She was stunned, she said later. All those questions, the photos, all the e-mails. The dead mother, the cute boy — somebody else’s kid.

I went with Ms. Wasescha as she took the check to a bank in Manhattan and asked a manager if it was fake. The manager ran it through a machine and pointed a special light at the paper, and said yes, it was a fake, a photocopy of a real check.

Ms. Wasescha said she had reported the case to the F.B.I. The routine is known as the “nanny scam,” its perpetrators preying on young women who quickly deposit the too-big check at an A.T.M., where some money might be immediately available, before the fraud is detected days later. Some of these nannies, eager to help the new employer, wire money to the fake mother. Efforts to reach the person using the name Venus Clemons were unsuccessful.

Ms. Wasescha has since answered another ad for nanny work. She was relieved when the mother suggested she visit the family’s apartment for a face-to-face interview.

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