The Fake Check Scam & What To Do If It Happens To You!

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Hi- I’m here to scam you!

Wednesday I opened our mailbox to discover a flat rate envelope addressed to me. Now, as a blogger, it isn’t uncommon to receive stuff in the mail. Tickets/comps to shows and events, samples, products to review, and even checks when I get paid for writing. Most of the time, these days, PR firms pay via Venmo, Paypal or EFT/Wire Transfer. I wasn’t expecting anything.

Something about this was… weird. Different. I didn’t recognize the name on the return address. The Envelope was light. I opened it and found this letter and check:

 

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Oh, so many things went through my head as I read this letter.

  1. OMG- So many fonts! That by itself SCREAMS SCAM! Also- That’s not what the USPS Logo looks like. The one on the letter is all stretched out and pixelated.
  2. I never signed up to audit/secret shop the US Postal Service. That’s not even something that is done by an outside party/company (I called the local post office at talked to someone- They straight up told me it was a scam.).
  3. When a letter is not on company letterhead with an office address, phone number, email address, and website- It’s a scam.
  4. When you are given a task to do and you are told to DEPOSIT A CHECK INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT- It’s a scam. Real, honest, legit secret shopping companies do not tell you to do that. They don’t front you the money. They reimburse you. And also- $2000 in untraceable money orders? IT’S A SCAM.
  5. When I called the “text only numbers” there was no answer at either one.
  6. Speaking of the phone numbers… Area codes 646 and 914 are both in New York state, but the return address on the priority envelope I received was from Pahrump, NV.  SCAM.
  7. The RE: line on my “check” says Cherie Miller, but I have no idea who that is. She’s not the person who sent me the check, and that name doesn’t appear on any of the paperwork. SCAM

After I read the letter and looked over the check, I went into full investigation mode. Back when I worked in property management, one of my favorite parts of the job was to search for people who owed various clients (HOA’s) money. Finding people to get them to pay delinquent accounts involves a high degree of “google-Fu”, which I pride myself on.

VyStar Credit Union is a for really real Credit Union in Florida. I called their customer service number and talked to a cool rep. I explained what I had, gave her the routing number and account number. Now, the routing number on this check does not match the routing number on their website. Some banks and financial institutions list their routing numbers on their websites to assist customers.  The Customer Service confirmed: THE CHECK WAS NOT REA, NOR WAS IT DRAWN ONA REAL ACCOUNT. Meaning, if I had deposited it, the check would bounce like a rubber ball. I would be hit with fees, and be responsible for paying my bank back the amount the check was written for.

At this point, I wasn’t really sure what to do. Call the DA? Call the FBI (It is mail fraud and came from out of state)? Call the local Post office (which I later did and they didn’t care)? I asked my mom, and she suggested I call Consumer Bob (he’s a local media figure, I messaged him on Facebook but never heard back). I called the DA and spoke to a Legal Secretary. She said to mail it to them and they’d put it in their fraud file. She said not to bother the FBI.

So why am I writing about this today? Because if I get one of these letters, many other people will too. People who need money, people who want to do secret shops/audits to make a little extra money. Not everyone will think with a clear or level head. They’ll take the check to the bank and deposit it ASAP without doing any research.

So I’m going to repeat myself: Real, honest, legit secret shopping companies do not tell you to do that. They don’t front you the money. They reimburse you after you turn your report and receipts in.

If you want to learn a little more about other types of scams that I’ve come across, here is a good article.  And if you are looking for a way to make a little extra money doing secret shops or audits, check out my post here about Field Agent. Field Agent is legit. I earn money with them every week doing small audits and shops. We got free pizza last week at Little Caesar’s and earned a little extra money too!

What did I end up doing with the letter, check, and envelope? It’s going to the DA next week.

Please share this post with your friends and family, especially if you have older family members who may not have great internet searching skills, or may need to earn some money. This scam can devastate an individual or family’s financial situation.

 

 

Scam alert and how to really make money at home…

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One of the things I get emails and messages about frequently is, “Have you heard about (Fill in name of scam program here) program? I got an email about it and it says I can make tons of money for only $50!” Or something that sounds equally as fishy.

With the economy being so depressed for an extended period of time, the rise in work at home and get rich quick scams is shocking.  Those who have a hard time finding a new job are perfect pickings for scammers.

I know that this is a savings blog, but I want to share with you some tips, hints, and information about what to look for if you want to work at home and make money online.  I don’t want to see any of you get scammed.

  • One of the most popular scams is the Nigerian Scam.  Basically an important person in an African country is in jail, if you send them money via wire transfer to help them, once they are out of jail, they will reimburse you plus a handsome fee.  Anytime you are emailed by someone who is asking for help and money, run run run.  Especially if they ask you to wire them your hard earned money (it can’t be tracked) or if they send you a check, ask you to cash it and either wire them the money or send them a money order.  That is a SCAM.
  • Work at home scams: If a company asks you to pay them for a list of work at home companies or secret shopper programs, that is most likely a scam. Google the name of the company and the word scam to double check.
  • For that matter, if a company promises an insane amount of money in a short amount of time, It’s a scam.
  •  If a “legit looking” work at home company requests a credit card number or any money at all, It’s a scam.

If you are looking to get rich quick, it’s damn near impossible!

I earn money online doing surveys, clicking links in emails and doing tasks.  If you are looking to make money online, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Earn Cash with Paid View Point. Surveys are short (less than 5 minutes).  Earn cash with each Survey.   You get $1.00 when you sign up! The pay out is $15.00, and it takes about a month to earn $15.00. So far in 2015, I’ve earned about $60.00.
  • Earn Gift cards with Mypoints. I take surveys, click links in emails, and do all of my online shopping through Mypoints. So far in 2015, I’ve earned about $30.00.
  • I also use Swagbucks. I use their search engine toolbar, take a daily poll, watch a video and click a few links each day! So far in 2015, I’ve earned about $60.00. Swagbucks has tons of rewards, you can receive cash via paypal too!
  • I do surveys with Pinecone Research. They aren’t always looking for new participants, but check out their website and see if you fit their open demographics. I make about $20/Month doing short surveys (10 minutes or less).

With all of these survey companies, these are surveys I am pre-qualified for. No spending 10-30 minutes only to learn that you aren’t getting paid and they don’t want your opinions (that’s the #1 reason I do not do Swagbucks surveys and I don’t recommend you waste your time doing them either).

I work on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to make extra money that I transfer to my Amazon.com account.  I am trying to earn enough to pay for holiday gifts. You sign up and do tasks for small amounts of money, but the money adds up fast.  The tasks are quick and simple (transcription, surveys, flagging inappropriate photos).  I’ve earned over $50 since February.  If you want cold hard cash instead of Amazon.com credit there is an option to have money transferred to a bank account.  Mechanical Turk does ask for your SSN when you sign up- you will receive a 1099- MISC at the end of the year., regardless of which option you select.

Volition has a great list of mystery shopper programs that are free. I do a few of these programs, and I have earned money!

I will by no means become a millionaire, but the extra money each month helps out and allows me to save for holiday gifts, and take the Kiddo to do fun stuff that we normally couldn’t afford.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 3.38.26 PMHere are a few insights that can help you determine if somethings a scam:

  • Does it seem too good to be true?
  • Is there no phone number or address to contact the company?
  • Does the website look “off” or give you a weird feeling (trust your spidery senses)?
  • Google the company name- What comes up?  If it’s not good, run run run!!
  • If a website has photos like the one below- it’s probably a SCAM!