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Fraudsters Cash In on Fake Check Scams
Posted By Sid Kirchheimer On May 2, 2014 @ 8:00 am In Scam Alert | Comments Disabled
Even in this age of high-tech trickery, one classic con continues strong: The gotcha that results from any number of scams that involves a fake check or money order.
Last year, fake checks once again ranked as number one on the “Top Scams” list by the National Consumers League and recently, they’ve been on the increase in some parts of the U.S.
But no matter where you live, they remain the route to rip-off in some of the most prevalent schemes preying on older Americans.
Maybe it’s for “winning” a lottery or sweepstakes. Perhaps “payment” for merchandise sold online, or to work as a mystery shopper or another job. Or even a promise that you qualify for “free” government money or an inheritance from a relative you never knew.
No matter the cover-story claim – and there are many – the scam goes like this:
You receive a check – unexpectedly or after responding to an offer made by email, phonecall or U.S. mail. Instructions are to deposit the received check in your bank account and then forward back some portion, often by wire transfer: You may be told it’s to pay for taxes or processing fees, because it’s a higher payment than the selling price of sold merchandise, or another lie.
What happens? Although the deposit initially is credited to your account, your bank is really fronting that money; it actually takes up to two weeks for the bank to authentic the check and collect those funds.
When the check turns out to be counterfeit – as it always does in such scams – you’re on the hook for all money drawn from its deposit. That includes the amount forwarded…along with legitimate bills paid with its funds. You may even face criminal charges for check fraud or have your bank account frozen.
Click here for clues to spot a fake check.
Also know this:
Your wisest move: Assume that any unexpected, higher-amount, or forward-back-some-portion check you receive is fraudulent – and best deposited in the trash rather than your bank.
Photo: David Goehring/Flickr
For information about other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud and gain access to a network of experts, law enforcement and people in your community who will keep you up-to-date on the latest scams in your area.
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