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:
Oh, so many things went through my head as I read this letter.
- 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.
- 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.).
- When a letter is not on company letterhead with an office address, phone number, email address, and website- It’s a scam.
- 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.
- When I called the “text only numbers” there was no answer at either one.
- 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.
- 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.