January 1, 1900
Because of an increase in reports of fraudulent checks/money orders received within the Columbus area, the Columbus Police Department is urging extra caution.
"Counterfeit or fake checks are being used in a growing number of fraudulent schemes, including foreign lottery scams, check overpayment scams, Internet auction scams and secret shopper scams," Columbus Police Department Public Information Officer Terrie Songer said in a news release.
In secret shopper scams, the consumer, supposedly hired to be a secret shopper, is asked to evaluate the effectiveness of a money transfer service.
The consumer is given a check, told to deposit it in their bank account and withdraw the amount in cash. Then, the consumer is told to take the cash to the money transfer service specified, and typically, send the transfer to a person in a Canadian city.
Then, the consumer is supposed to evaluate their experience, but no one collects the evaluation.
"The secret shopper scenario is just a scam to get the consumer's money. Con artists who use these schemes can easily avoid detection," Songer said.
Consumers should not rely on money from any type of check unless they know and trust the person or until the bank confirms that the check has cleared.
"Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled," Songer noted. "The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check."
Anatomy of a scam
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
Here's how to avoid a counterfeit check scam:
If you think you're a victim
Contact your local law enforcement agency to file a report. Bring any letters you received, as well as any check/money order with you when you file your report. crack
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