Fake check schemes under a number of different guises are targeting consumers across the country, warns Better Business Bureau (BBB). In fact, the mail fraud is so widespread that the U.S. Postal Service has launched an awareness campaign to warn the public www.fakechecks.org
Consumers across the country call BBB daily to ask about letters and checks. The letters use addresses around the U.S. and even foreign countries. For example, some letters claim the recipient has won a lottery; others claim the recipient has been selected to work as a “mystery shopper”; and still others claim that the recipient will receive a grant or some other big payoff.
The letters include checks – for hundreds or thousands of dollars – along with instructions to deposit or cash the check and send most of the amount as directed. Usually the victim is told to send the money by wire.
BBB warns consumers not to wire the money as directed, because the checks are phony. Even though the checks look genuine and may even be accepted at first by a bank or wire service, the checks are counterfeit. Consumers who send the funds as directed end up losing their own money.
Unfortunately, high quality printers and scanners make it easier for counterfeiters to produce official-looking checks of all types and caliber, including cashier’s checks. The BBB and State Attorneys General offer tips to evaluate the legitimacy of checks you receive from individuals or businesses that you do not know:
• Do not rely on the money until the funds have been finally collected by your financial institution. Funds “availability” is not good enough.
• If you have any questions about whether a transaction is legitimate, talk to your bank or credit union.
If you have received a phony check but did not lose money, you can discard the material. If you have actually lost money to a fake check scheme, report it to the Attorney General’s office in your state or to:United States Postal Inspection Servicehttp://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS SERVICE CENTER
ATTN: MAIL FRAUD
222 S. RIVERSIDE PLAZA STE 1250
CHICAGO IL 60606-6100