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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , ,   

    Stolen mail leads to stolen checks 

    Stolen mail leads to stolen checks

    By Greg Collier

    I’m sure we’ve all been there. You go the post office and pull up to the outside collection box. It turns out that the mailbox is filled to the brim with mail. You think to yourself that anyone could reach in and take a handful of mail. Then you still place your item to be mailed in the overflowing mailbox. If you’re still paying your bills by mail, you might want to reconsider that stance.

    A collection box outside a post office in Virginia Beach, Virginia has been targeted multiple times for mail theft in the past few months. After the mail was stolen from the box, checks that were supposed to be for bills were washed and cashed for much larger amounts. Check washing is when someone dips an already written or even canceled check in chemicals and removes the handwritten ink from the check. They then put in whatever information on the check that they need. As long as there is enough money in the account the check can be cashed. Some of the checks were rewritten for thousands of dollars more than they were intended for. If that transaction is ignored long enough, you could miss the window you have to dispute the falsified check.

    While this scam may not be as prevalent as others, you still don’t want to be the victim of this scam. It’s recommended that in order to protect yourself that you switch from checks to electronic payments. They can’t steal a check if there’s no check to be stolen. However, if you’re dead set on still mailing checks, there are a few precautions you can take. There are special pens that you can buy that are resistant to check washing. If you’re taking the bills to the post office, have them mailed from inside the post office where they’re less likely to be stolen. Lastly, never leave your outgoing mail in your home mailbox. More mail is stolen from home mailboxes than USPS mailboxes.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, overpayment scam, photographers, ,   

    How a Texas photography scam affects you 

    By Greg Collier

    It seems that scam artists are targeting wedding photographers in North Texas with a familiar ploy. The scammers are posing as wedding parties who are booking the photographer for a session. The scammers then send a check that’s more than the amount the photographer is asking. The scammers tell the photographer that the check was in the wrong amount and that the photographer should just deposit the check and send back the difference.

    Long-time readers may recognize this as the fake check or overpayment scam. If any photographers have deposited these checks, they may find their bank accounts a lot lighter. Banks usually don’t receive notice that the checks are fake for a couple of days. By that time the scammers have their money and the victim is stuck with paying off the phony check to their bank plus any fees incurred. At least one photographer asked her bank to research the check before she deposited it, and the check turned out to be fraudulent.

    You’re probably saying to yourself that you’re not a photographer from Texas, so why should you have to worry about this scam? The answer to that is this scam just doesn’t target one industry or one location. If you’re an employee, a business owner, or freelancer you could be targeted in this scam. If your position or business requires you to accept payments, you could be targeted in this scam. That’s not even considering that this scam has a long history of targeting individual consumers who sell items online.

    If you ever receive a check that’s over the amount you’re expecting, either destroy the check or send it back. If a business or business owner were to deposit one of these checks you could see your checks to vendors start bouncing. That could end with your business having a negative reputation with your vendors that could take a while to rebuild.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check scam, , ,   

    Car wrapping disguises old scam 

    Car wrapping disguises old scam
    What a car wrap may look like

    Wrapping your car in advertisements is similar to the secret shopper scam. While there are legitimate opportunities to make some money by having your car wrapped in advertising, the scammers seem to vastly outnumber the legitimate vendors. The car wrap scammers are actually just using this ploy to find people to use in one of the most common scams of our time.

    The car wrap scam is just an extension of the fake check scam. Scammers will either post an online ad looking for people to have their car wrapped, or they’ll solicit people in the mail. Either way, victims are sent a check and are told to deposit the check in their banking account, so they can pay to have their car wrapped and take some money as payment. Then the victims will be instructed to send any money leftover to the scammers.

    The checks are fake, and if you deposit the check and then spend it, you’ll be responsible for the check’s amount to your bank plus any additional fees. When a bank receives a check as a deposit they’re operating under the assumption that the check is legitimate and the funds should be immediately available. This is especially true if the phony check resembles a legitimate cashier’s check.

    Recently, this scam has started to appear again in different parts of the country. We’ve seen reports from such diverse places as Pittsburgh to rural Alabama. This is a good indicator that the scam could show up in your area sometime soon.

    No legitimate employer will ever ask you to donate a check into your personal bank account that’s not your paycheck. If one does, it’s almost certain to be a scam. A scam that could very well leave you worse off than you might have already been.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , ,   

    Scammers still use old-school means to find victims 

    Scammers still use old-school means to find victims

    Back in the days before the internet, it was somewhat of a special occasion to receive something in the mail that wasn’t a bill or junk mail. Apparently, it seems that some scammers are still using snail mail in order to find more victims. The thinking here might be that by using the postal mail it gives the scam more of an air of legitimacy than an online scam. However, postal scams can be just as devastating as online scams. Although, the red flags can be just as recognizable.

    A man in Virginia recently received a letter in the mail with a check attached to it. The letter offered a secret shopper position with directions to cash the check before buying Nike gift cards and keeping $450 for himself. Then he would have to take pictures of the front and back of the gift cards to email back to the ‘company’.

    As you’ve probably surmised, the check was fake. The man even said that the check looked like a fake to him. If he were to deposit this check, he would be responsible for the amount to his bank once they found out the check was fake. That’s not even taking into account that companies that employ secret shoppers don’t send out unsolicited mail to random people. Not to mention that any transaction that’s not for a gift card’s intended purpose is almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    Thankfully, the man noticed some other red flags as well. One was that the supposed company that was employing secret shoppers didn’t exist. He found this out after a quick web search. Then he noticed that the name of the company on the check didn’t match that of the company who claimed to have sent it.

    The more concerning part is that the scammers tried following up with the man over text message. They had both his name and his phone number.

    If you receive one of these secret shopper letters, just throw it out. If you receive a text message related to the letter just ignore it. Any response to the scammers will let them know that there is a real person on the other end who could potentially be targeted for more scams.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check scam, ,   

    Don’t get wrapped up in this job scam 

    Don't get wrapped up in this job scam
    What a wrapped car may look like.

    If you’ve ever spotted a car that was covered in advertising that wasn’t on a racetrack you’ve witnessed what’s known as car wrapping. Some companies will pay people just to drive around with their branding on your vehicle. However, much like the secret shopper scams, there are probably more scam offers for this opportunity than legitimate ones. Recent reports indicate that there is a resurgence in car wrapping scams.

    The car wrapping scam is just another variation of the fake check scam. The scammers will send you a check for more than you’re supposed to be paid. They’ll then instruct you to deposit the check in your bank account and return the overage to them. Once your bank finds out the check is fraudulent after you deposit it, you’d be responsible for the full amount of the check plus whatever overage fees the bank would charge you.

    The car wrapping scam seems to target mostly young people who are looking to make some extra money. A teen in Knoxville, Tennessee was recently sent an unsolicited letter in the mail with the check already enclosed claiming an upfront payment of $700. The check was for $3700.

    A fast-food worker in Charlotte, North Carolina went online to find a way to make extra money and found an ad for a car wrapping gig. She was offered $400 but the check she received was for $3600. She went ahead and deposited the check and sent the remainder back to the scammers.

    Please keep in mind that no legitimate employer will ask you to deposit a check and have you send them money back. If a real company made a mistake like this, they would just cut you a new check.

    Also, real advertisers that hire people for car wrapping opportunities actually have a stringent screening process. They’ll also have detailed information about the opportunity on their website including their physical location.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , , ,   

    The original fake check scam resurfaces 

    The original fake check scam resurfaces

    The fake check scam has been around as long as items have been sold on the internet. As we have shown, there are many variations on the fake check scam, but to our knowledge, this one was the first. We even used to call it the Craigslist check scam since it was so prevalent on their platform.

    This scam happens when you try to sell something online no matter what platform you may choose to use. You’ll receive a check from a prospective buyer for more than the amount you were asking for. The buyer will give some excuse why the check was written like that. They’ll then ask you to deposit the check and just return the overage.

    The problem occurs when your bank finds out it’s a fake check after you’ve already returned the overage to the phony buyer. Even though you’ve been the victim of a scam, your bank will hold you responsible for the full amount of the fake check you deposited along with any associated fees.

    This recently happened to a woman from New Jersey. She had lost her job because of COVID and was selling some of her personal belongings on the OfferUp app. She listed some furniture for sale and it wasn’t long before a prospective buyer contacted her on OfferUp. The buyer then moved all communications to text messaging.

    The buyer even had a sob story all ready to go to get the seller’s defenses to go down. The buyer claimed that her grandmother was ill in the hospital and that the buyer’s secretary accidentally sent a check for the wrong amount. The check received was for over $2600 when the seller was only asking $900.

    The seller offered to have the check destroyed so the buyer could send a new one. Instead, the buyer insisted the check be deposited and the seller could send $1000 of the overage back through payment app Zelle and the rest through Venmo which the seller did. The check turned out to be a fake cashier’s check and now the unemployed seller has to pay at least $1700 back to her bank.

    When you’re selling on any online marketplace, any time you receive a check that’s more than your asking amount it’s almost guaranteed to be a fake. Also, be aware of any kind of sob story attached to an irregular payment like this. You should also be aware of any transactions that are offered to be done over payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App as scammers can block you after taking your money.

    We always recommend only doing business locally and only with cash. Also, you should do any exchanges of items and money at a local police station as many stations now have areas set up for such occasions. While it may not be the perfect solution, it does go a long way in discouraging criminal behavior from happening.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , ,   

    Job scams affect college students too 

    Job scams affect college students too

    When we think of scams, we often think of the elderly being the targets of scammers. However, college-age people are just as susceptible to scams as older generations. Some reports say it’s due to their lack of experience in dealing with such scams while others say it’s because their generation is more trusting. Either way, they have become very lucrative for various types of scammers.

    For example, a young college student who lives in Arizona was recently taken for over $3000 in a job scam. The student attends college at a Midwestern University but is currently home for the summer and was looking for a job. She received a job offer from someone that appeared to be a faculty member at her university. The email address was even said to have the .edu identifier in it.

    The job they offered her is a familiar one when it comes to scams. They would send her a check, she would deposit it in her own bank account, then buy supplies from a designated supplier. She was then instructed to keep $400 of the check as her payment.

    It was after she made all the payments that the check she was sent turned out to be a fraudulent check. She was then responsible to her bank for the entire amount of the $3,550 check. As it turned out, her university’s email had been compromised and scammers were using it to lure several students into the scam.

    The fake check scam is at the heart of several different scams from job scams to purchase scams. No legitimate employer will ever ask you to donate a check into your personal bank account outside of your pay. If one does, it’s almost certain to be a scam. A scam that could very well leave you worse off than you might have already been.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , check scam, , , , , , , , ,   

    A new series of scams to look out for 

    A new series of scams to look out for

    Here are some new scams that we’ve found out about that are going on around the country. Please keep in mind that just because they are not currently happening in your area doesn’t mean that they can’t.

    Another victim has been scammed through the freelancer platform Upwork. In Pennsylvania, a woman had accepted an editing position that she had found on Upwork. She was sent a check for $2000 by her ’employer’ in order to buy equipment for her position. She was then instructed to send what wasn’t spent back to her employer through Venmo and gift cards. The $2000 check later turned out to be fraudulent. Upwork has said that you should not communicate with a client outside of the Upwork platform. If you receive a check in the mail and are asked to send a balance back through untraceable means like Venmo or gift cards, it’s almost a guarantee that the job is a scam.

    In Northern California, at least one resident has reported a new scam that had happened to them. They say they received a text message where a cybercriminal claimed that they had total control of the victim’s cell phone including the microphone and camera. The scammer then tried to extort $1500 in cryptocurrency out of the person they texted. The odds are very slim that your phone will be hijacked in this way. That’s also not taking into account that when you pay a purported blackmailer like this, they will continue to try and squeeze as much money out of you as possible. If you receive a text like this you are asked to report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Lastly, in Tulsa, Oklahoma man fell for a customer service scam that left him out of $1500. The man was having issues with his Cash App account. He called what he thought was Cash App’s customer service department but was actually a scammer. Before it was all over, the man’s Cash App account had been drained by the scammers. In this day and age of everything being online, not every company has a customer service number you can call. Often scammers take advantage of this by advertising phony customer service numbers. If you need to contact a company for customer service, go directly to that company’s website and look for a link that either says ‘contact us’ or ‘support’. Don’t just do a web search for ‘company x’s customer service number’ as there’s a good chance that number could be fake.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, freelancing, , ,   

    Freelance gig platform targeted in check scam 

    Freelance gig platform targeted in check scam

    Upwork is one of many platforms that allow companies to connect with freelancers to fulfill temporary but crucial assignments. Many professionals have turned to services like Upwork to make money during the current unemployment crisis. This has not gone unnoticed by scammers and they are said to be using platforms like Upwork to commit one of their oldest scams.

    According to a report from NBC News, scammers are posing as real companies on these services to commit the phony check scam. Phony or fraudulent checks are used in a variety of scams from everything to selling an item online to intricate employment scams. The goal of the fake check scam is always the same. The scammer wants you to deposit the check into your bank account, then send them most or all of the money before your bank realizes the check is a fake. By that time, the scammer is long gone with your money and the bank is holding you responsible for the amount of the fake check.

    A California man went to Upwork and applied for an opportunity that he assumed was legitimate. He was interviewed over Skype and even received an offer letter on what appeared to be legitimate company letterhead from a legitimate global corporation. The man also received a check for $3000 that he was told was for his home office supplies. He deposited the check and bought equipment from suppliers that his new ’employer’ recommended. These supposed suppliers were more than likely in league with the phony job scammer. Before it was all over, the man found himself without a job and out $3000 on top of it.

    Upwork themselves have said that users should not use any communication with prospective employers outside of Upwork itself. That is a great tip as scammers and other cyber-criminals often try to communicate with their victims outside of usual channels.

    While many people realize that the checks they receive are fake, there are enough people who fall for this scam that they keep the scammers in business. Billions of dollars in fraudulent checks are deposited into bank accounts each year. You can protect yourself by avoiding these situations. If a deal feels like it’s wrong, it probably is.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: check scam, , , ,   

    Increase in scam that could land victims in jail 

    Increase in scam that could land victims in jail

    Just like every other scam, the reshipping or repackaging scam has seen an increase since the start of the current pandemic. In the reshipping scam, scammers post online ads for a work at home job. The phony job entails receiving packages in the mail that the scammer will say you need to inspect for damages before shipping them to a third party. The items usually have been purchased with a stolen credit card. This way it becomes harder to track the stolen item. Police in Boise, Idaho recently recovered $7,000 worth of stolen goods from the home of someone who had been scammed into reshipping them.

    The biggest hazard with the reshipping scam is the fact that even if you’ve been conned into reshipping, you can still be held criminally liable depending on what you were asked to do by the scammers. For example, if you were instructed to lie on US Customs Service forms for packages leaving the country, you could be charged with fraud.

    Another drawback of this scam outside of receiving stolen merchandise is that you could be paid with fraudulent checks or money orders. Once again, if you deposit these into your bank account and then spend the money for whatever reason, you’ll be responsible to the bank for the check’s amount once they discover it’s fraudulent.

    And since the reshipping scam usually stems from phony job ads, your identity could be compromised as well if you provided personal information to the scammers. Could you imagine if all three of these things happened to you at once? That could cost you untold amounts of money just for being an unwitting participant in the scam.

    If you think you may be a victim in a reshipping scam there are steps you can take. If you’ve already received items don’t mail them. Instead, contact the USPS Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

     
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