Beware of Fake Check Scams
Here’s a scenario that’s already victimized hundreds of unsuspecting people: Have you ever received a letter and cashier’s check claiming you’ve won a sweepstakes or lottery? And in order to receive your winnings, you must deposit the check and wire funds back to cover the cost of taxes and fees? Don’t do it... it’s a scam!
With a fake check scam, the check you receive looks legitimate. It isn’t until you deposit the check and wire the funds that you discover the check was fake, making you accountable for the amount of the check, the amount wired and any insufficient fund fees.
Some types of fake check scams. These fake check scams are growing in popularity, and new types are popping up constantly.
- Overpayment Scam: Scammers buy merchandise online or through a newspaper ad that you are selling and claim they accidentally sent too much. They ask you to send the excess funds back to them only to discover the check you deposited is not legitimate. Now, you lose the money you returned to the scammer.
- Work-at-Home Scam: The scam promises easy money by “processing” checks. They instruct you to deposits the checks and send the money back to them (the fraudster), minus a small fee. Of course, the checks are fake and will be returned as such, and you’ll be responsible for covering the funds.
- Foreign Business Offers: Scammers pose as business people or government officials and promise millions of dollars by asking you to invest in a partnership. They send you an advance on the millions of dollars you’ll earn and ask you to send cash back for legal or other expenses. Of course you’ll learn the check was fake and will be returned as such, and you lose the funds you sent to the scammer.
- Sudden Riches: The scammer contacts you by phone, mail, fax or email and claims you have won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. The scammer sends you an advance and asks you to send money to receive the remainder of your prize money. Remember, winners of real cash prizes are notified by certified mail and never have to pay to receive the winnings.
Protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Fake check scams can take weeks to discover and can end up costing you big bucks. Check out these tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Think before you act and throw out any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or gift.
- If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price.
- Only cash a check or deposit a money order of a close relative or someone you’ve known for a long time.
- If the person insists that you send funds back to them, stop the transaction immediately.