Can You Spot A Fake Check Scam, Mystery Shopper Scam, Or A Counterfeit Money Order?

Many of us have received or are familiar with the many scams that end up in our email inbox and we know how to deal with the situation. Some scammers have improved on the way they attempt to deceive you and also will send counterfeit checks or money orders to try to suck you into their illegal ploy. So what exactly do we need to watch for?

The sudden riches scam is the easiest to spot and is basically known as the Nigerian scam. You receive an email from someone who claims they have come into a huge amount of money and need to get the amount out of their country. They will split the huge sum if you in turn will send them a certain amount of money as good faith. The scammers may pose as business people or government officials from a foreign country.

In some cases they may offer you work at home jobs, send you a commission check that is larger than what you should receive and ask you to return the over payment. Another is the ruse of renting an apartment or home and the check you receive is in excess of what it should be. They ask you to forward the additional amount to another person. The scammers may claim to have a medical emergency and need your help in cashing a check so funds can be sent to the ailing friend or relative.

There is also the mystery shopper scam that will appear as a genuine job offer. The job is fairly simple and requires you to only shop at certain stores and to report back on your findings. Your first warning sign is that there is no personal interview nor is a background check done since you are hired immediately. I had a friend of mine who fell for the mystery shopper scam when she was asked to test a money transfer service. She was asked to send $500 of her own money through a fake money service and was promised her $500 plus an additional $500 for her service. Unfortunately she never received her money back and was out $500. One could call her dumb, but we must understand her situation. She had been out of work for six months and was desperate to find any type of work.

Here is a question that often comes up. Why can’t your bank, credit union, or other financial institution determine that the check you are depositing is a fake or counterfeit check or money order when you make the deposit? The deposit is based on your identification only and the bank has no information as to the source of the check. When the check or money order is determined to be a fake, your are held responsible for the lost funds.

It is easy for those of us who have never been scammed to frown upon those who have. One would think that there have been so many warnings about these type of scams that only an idiot would fall for these or any other scam. Before we sit in judgment of others, we must remember there are a lot of people who have lost their jobs or are in the process of losing their homes and are desperate for cash. For them these scams seem like a quick way to obtain the cash they need.

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Internet Crooks Renting Homes They Don’t Own – The Rent Is Always Below Market Value

The crooks have a scam that is not unique and actually has been around for many years. The difference is that the crooks are using the Internet, mainly Craigslist, to rent homes that they do not own.  The scam is fairly simple and one that victims can be easily suckered into. A home is advertised on Craigslist for a price that is lower than lower than what rent is being charged for other homes. All the victim has to do is to send a security deposit, first and last months rent, and the owner will send you the keys. The bad guys even post pictures of the residence and naturally it looks great and the rent is cheap.

According to one article it also stated that:

“I think it’s a variation of the many Internet schemes that try to defraud people,” said the OPD spokeswoman. “There are different ways popping up all the time.”

Scroble said the best defense against these sorts of Internet scams is using common sense.

Take the rental scam, for example.

Scroble said most rental agreements aren’t done sight unseen.

Although OPD has special fraud investigators for such crimes, the work is difficult, often because the scammers are in other countries, making them almost immune to prosecution.

For James Lovett, Estep’s house was just what he was looking for.

“It was beautiful. It was everything I wanted,” he said.

But the scam artists don’t just rent homes. They also buy items on Craigslist as well. Here is another scam:

The woman said she sold a ring, which is worth $3,400, on to someone claiming to be from Des Moines Iowa, according to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office report.

The woman said the buyer was supposed to forward $1,600 to her PayPal account. She said Tuesday morning she saw the $1,600 pending in the account, so she sent the item via FedEx. But the $1,600 was no longer there when she checked again Tuesday night.

The woman said she e-mailed the buyer and warned him that she would notify authorities if he did not send the money, the report stated.

The buyer replied bluntly: You’ve been scammed. He said the address and the e-mail account were not his and that he only uses them to scam people.

What types of scams are you aware of?  Share your experience, knowledge and thoughts on how others have been the victims of scam artists.

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