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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Eastern Oklahoma
BBB Warns Community to be Leery of USPS Checks Arriving from Foreign Countries
November 10, 2011
Rick Brinkley, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Oklahoma, announced today a warning to consumers and members of the financial industry to a new fraud scheme. Letters are being mailed from Canada to U.S. residents announcing that the recipient will receive a substantial cash payment, but that "duty fees" must be paid, and the addressee must telephone a foreign "customs agency". When victims call the phone number, they are told a "trustee" can pay for the fees if they do not earn more than $5,000 a month. The addressee is told to fax a copy of his/her paycheck to prove the limited earnings. A second letter soon arrives, containing a counterfeit check, appearing to be from the United States Postal Service or another business. The victim is told to deposit the check, then wire a portion of the money outside the United States.

The Postal Inspection Service is aggressively investigating this scheme in order to stop further compromises of legitimate bank account information and prevent victims from losing funds.

The fraudulent Postal Service checks DO NOT have the following security features:

• Warning band on front of check in reverse print located right justified in gray band across top of check stating 'FACE OF THIS DOCUMENT PRINTED IN RED, BLUE & GRAY INKS.'

• VOID pantograph should appear on front of check if photocopied.

• Back of check is tan and white striped.

• Copy-resistant printed custom watermark on back of check - USPS logo in white opaque ink in wire-woven pattern.

• Micro printing (MP) on front signature line and reverse endorsement line - look for repeated US POSTAL SERVICE.

• Artificial fluorescent fibers should be visible under black light.

• Bleach or solvent use will cause stains or spots.

Brinkley says that if someone in the financial industry has a customer who presents a Postal Service check to be cashed or deposited, it is recommended that the teller ask the presenter how the check was received and for what purpose. It is also recommended that two forms of ID be obtained.

The Postal Service does not send ANY monetary disbursements originating outside the United States. Furthermore, there is no reason a recipient of a cash payment should ever have to provide any kind of income verification, or to return any portion of a payment via wire transfer.

If you believe that the check is related to a purported cash payment coming from Canada, we suggest that you do not accept the check. Call the Postal Inspection Service immediately at 877-876-2455.