What does a Nigerian prince, a secret shopper job that pre-pays and a foreign lottery all have in common? 99.9% of the time they are all a scam. The scenario is different but the result is the same. The victim(you) is asked to deposit a check or money order, sent from the scammer, into your financial institution account. The victim is then told to wire or Western Union money back to the scammer, but the victim gets to keep a partial amount. By the time all is said and done, the check is returned to the victim’s account as fraudulent and they’re out the full amount of the deposited check. With no recourse to the scammer.
How can this happen?
Knowing where your checks and money orders are coming from ensures that this is less likely to happen to you. Following basic safety measures and checking sources before allowing yourself to become victim of fraud helps keep your account safe and your money secure.
- Don’t accept a check or money order from someone you don’t know or for reasons you’re unsure of.
- People and businesses don’t normally send out free money for illegitimate or no reason, ESPECIALLY if you don’t know them.
- Not all cashier’s checks are legitimate. There is technology out there today that anyone can purchase to make a real enough looking cashier’s check that even a Credit Union teller would not be able to tell the difference.
- Don’t send money to somebody you don’t know.
- Even if her grandson needs help getting out of jail, grandma is not as innocent as her email makes her sound. It’s probably not even grandma. Unless you recognize the person’s contact information ignore the requests.
- Do NOT give your information to anyone. Whether it be through email, text or over the phone.
- If you happen to be selling something to someone, accept only cash or payment through a payment service like Paypal.
- If you are in a legitimate transaction of selling an item and the purchaser requests you to send money back immediately end the transaction.
If you feel like you may have been tricked into any of these scams or something similar please report it to the money transfer company as well as the FTC and your Financial Institution.
- MoneyGram: 1-800-666-3947, www.moneygram.com
- Western Union: 1-800-448-1492, www.westernunion.com
- FTC (Federal Trade Commission): www.ftc.gov