In recent months, check scammers have evolved as people figured out their scams and how to avoid them.
Along with the older fake lottery checks, scammers are now also using fake checks to run scams revolving around online job opportunities and even people selling goods over the internet.
The scammers usually ask local consumers to deposit the check into a checking account then return a large portion of the funds before the fake check clears the bank.
They claim it is for anything from service charges and taxes on fake lottery winnings to an accidental overpayment for a purchase or necessary equipment to begin a new job found online that does not really exist.
The BBB has recently received reports locally from sellers who reported scammers sending fake checks to pay for items sold in the internet. The fake checks are intentionally made out for more than the selling price. The scammers claim that they accidently paid too much money, then ask that the difference be returned to them.
In all these cases, the checks are forgeries and the seller loses any money that is sent to the scammers. Residents are also left holding the bag for the entire amount of the deposited fake check plus non-sufficient fund fees charged by banks.
To perpetuate the scam, the checks are often sent bearing the names of real companies and are drawn from national, recognizable banks such as Chase or Wells Fargo Bank.
One local consumer recently deposited one of these fake checks, the returned $1,800 of the money in order to purchase a computer for a fake payroll assistant position she was offered.
But both the job offer and check were fake, leaving her with a $1,800 loss because she did not confirm the job offer with the real company before wiring the money to the scammers.
The BBB offers the following tips to avoid being taken by check scams:
To avoid being caught in a check scam:
- Verify that checks received in the mail are real. Anytime you receive an unexpected check in the mail, verify that it is from a valid bank account. Use a phone book to make sure you’re calling the bank and not a phony number. Call the bank and ask if the account number on the check is valid.
- Do not wire money until the check clears the bank. If you’re dealing with someone who requires you to wire or send money immediately after depositing a check, without waiting for the check to clear, this is a red flag. Do not pursue the opportunity.
- Exercise Caution on the web. When using social networking sites like Facebook and online employment sites such as Craigslist, be sure to check the actual Web site of the company posting the position to verify it actually exists. If you don’t see it on their site, chances are it’s a scam.
- Protect Personal Information. Job seekers should never provide their social security number or birth date until they have verified the position is legitimate. Additionally, job seekers should never provide bank account information for direct deposit setup until they have officially been hired.
- Start with Trust. Check with the BBB at Acadiana.bbb.org.