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.

 

 

Mid-Year Hustle Update

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It’s June- The middle of the year, time to review how much I’ve made on my side hustles so far this year. To be fair, I did just complete a semester of college, so it’s probably not as much as I could have been making.

I’ve only included the hustles I’ve made money with in 2019. A complete list of all my money making hustles can be found here.

Radial Insight So far in 2019, I’ve earned a little over $25 in Amazon GC (which is my preferred method of payment, besides cold, hard cash)

PaidViewPoint– $33 via Paypal, plus I’ve done 2 studies where they send me a product to try out and fill out a survey about.

Field Agent $120.30 (via EFT) to date! This is one of my favorites. You choose the tasks you wish to do, and you can do as many as you are able to complete.

SBKC $50 via online Visa GC. I’ve been doing this for one for about 9 or so years. It’s dead simple.

Focus Groups $300 I’ve only done two this year, but I’m scheduled for one next Friday that pay $200!

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk  I really need to do more of these tasks- $10 in Amazon GC total.

Mypoints  $75 in various gift cards and Paypal payouts. I do 99% of my online shopping through Mypoints.

Misc. surveys $340. Here are a few of the survey companies I use: InBox Dollars, Reward Survey, Survey JunkieVIP Voice.

Swagbucks– $10 Amazon GC I don’t use Swagbucks as much as I used to. They have tons of surveys to do to earn points.

And from my list of Money Saving Apps:

So, my total for the year to date is: $1073.30. I use this money to pay for activities with the kids, special treats, and date nights.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your side hustles!

Field Agent: Secret Shopping, Audits and More!

IMG_5660I’ve written about Field Agent before, but I’ve got an awesome update!

The new referral program pays you money for telling your friends about Field Agent.

unnamed.pngFor every new agent that uses your referral code, Field Agent will pay you 10-percent of what they earn until they reach $100. There’s no limit to the amount of referrals you can give out. The more, the merrier!

My Referral Code is abxbnqx. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do! I did 3 audits at our local Walmart today and earned $12 for 15 minutes of work.

 

My Side Hustles Totals for 2018!

 

0719afa6a9b8772ba8e90f6bc40637fa.jpgI’ve been tallying up how much I made in 2018 on my side hustles, and I thought that I’d share. I don’t work on all of these every day. Sometimes, there are tons of hustles to do, and sometimes (like in the summer), there aren’t too many opportunities. Part of side hustles is rolling with the punches. When there aren’t any side hustles to earn money, the name of the game becomes all about saving money.

My complete list of side hustles is here. And the list of apps I use is here.

Let’s start with Smartphone apps, since they are pretty passive income for me. I’m not as much into them as a lot of other savers. The truth is, I don’t shop at most mainstream grocery stores, so apps like Savingstar and Ibotta aren’t very useful. And we don’t eat a lot of pre-packaged stuff any more.

Survey Companies:

Cashback Shopping apps:

  • Mypoints: $125 (It was my primary online shopping cashback site for the year)
  • Topcashback$25

Misc. (apps, sites, programs that don’t really fit in any other category)

Total: $3013 Not bad for someone who always has a three year old in tow!

I’m always on the look out for new hustles and opportunities to make extra money.

Talk Back- I’d love to hear about any side hustles or ways you make money on the side!

 

My Favorite Side Hustle: Field Agent!

IMG_5660Last summer, I wrote about all of my side hustles. You can read the article here.

Well I got another one to share! I’ve actually had this one for quite a while (about a year and a half), but I’ve always been hesitant to share it. Recently, I have been approached by more than a few people who are looking for ways to make money, and I decided that I was finally going to let the cat out of the bag and share perhaps, my favorite side hustle of all.

Field Agent is an app you can download for your smart phone. It’s different from secret shopping apps and websites, in that you are only shown assignments in your area, that you qualify for. All of the assignments are self assigned, which means that if you want to job you can apply for it you don’t have to email and hope they pick you- which is my big gripe with most secret shopping/audit companies.

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Different types of jobs that are available on the Field Agent App

The other thing that makes Field Agent different is that when you select the job, you have a specific time allotted for you to complete the task after you apply and are approved. The time varies based on what type of job it is, but it’s usually 2 to 4 hours from the time you choose the job and you are approved.

 

Jobs can be as simple as a photographing an end cap at a store or can be as difficult as photographing the exterior of the home to help out an insurance company.

The key to doing these jobs well is to be discreet. You’re not gonna walk into a store and loudly announced you’re here to do an audit, or that you’re here to do a secret shopper. All jobs can be completed with the use of a smartphone, as you will do the job while you are in the store in the app, and photograph using the app as well.

All jobs can be completed with the use of a smartphone, as you will do the job while you are in the store in the app, and photograph using the app as well.

I tend to do assignments when my big guy is at school, and it’s just me and the little one, although if there are higher paying gigs on weekends, I will gladly take both kids if it is a simple task.

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I haven’t made very much this year, but now that school is back in session, It’s time to earn some money!

I’ve taken a lot of time away from this year and have not been using the app to earn money as often as I should. But now that my big guy is back in school, I have been doing assignments like mad. I have earned about $40 in the past week and a half. And that’s just one to two hours a week.

They pay either through EFT to your bank account. It takes only a few days for the money to be transferred into my bank account, and then I can spend (or save) it how I please.

If you think Field Agent is something you’d like, you can check out their website here, and download the app from wherever you get apps!