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

Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 10.06.01 PM.png
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:

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 10.06.12 PM.png

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.

 

 

My hustle: How I make Part Time Income as a SAHM!

When I started this blog, it was to get back to my roots- Helping people save and earn money. As a result, I don’t make a lot of money from this blog. So, I needed to bump up my side hustles to make the part-time income that I’d grown accustomed to. I thought I’d share my best hustles with you.

d75a9bbe49e6214edc6ec7cde719427c

If you are unfamiliar with the term hustle, Urban dictionary defines it as, “Anythin you need to do to make money… be it sellin cars…… If you makin money, you hustlin.”

I have two littles to take care of, so keep that in mind. If you don’t have kids, you might be able to spend more time doing each of these activities, which in turn could yield more money!

Surveys online. Here are two fer shure, legit companies that I use. Pinecone Research (they are always looking for 12-24 or Hispanic demographics) pays $3.00 paypal per survey! My other favorite is PaidViewPoint– They only send you surveys that you qualify for, so there is no wasted time. Payout is only $15.00, so I make payout about once a month. It’s not tons of work, and every little bit helps! What I like about these companies is that they only send you surveys that you are qualified for. No time wasted to find out a quota is full or that you don’t fit their criteria. 

Some survey companies also do paid trials: They send you a product, you use it then complete a survey and give your opinions on the product. And you get paid! So it’s a win win. You get a free product, and you get paid!

Secret shopping. There are tons of apps and websites that will help you find secret shopping gigs. I recommend checking out Volition.com for a listing of secret shopping companies (and reviews). A few of my friends recommend jobslinger.com as a great resource. I earn about $75.00/week doing secret shopping and that’s for less than 1 hours work! Some companies don’t need you to buy anything, just go in an evaluate customer service, or audit shelves to make sure items are in stock. Oh, and I can take Bitty Bird along with me!

Turn your Junk Mail into Cash! I’ve been doing this for YEARS, and I love it. You can learn all about Small Business Knowledge Center here.  I just got another $20 Visa GC in the mail yesterday! My forth this year! We get tons of junk mail right now because we refinanced our mortgage not long ago.

Focus Groups. I wrote about them here. They are not a constant source of money, but I do one about once a month or so, and they tend to pay $75 or more for just a few hours of your time. It’s a fun way to share your opinion with companies and earn some great money.

And of course, I use cashback apps. My full list of favs can be found here. No lie, I cash out about $50.00 a month between all of the apps downloaded onto my iPhone!

Then there are of course the old stand-bys to make money:

  • Garage sale (seriously, everyone has too much stuff),
  • Utilizing Resale Shops (Kids clothes, ladies clothes, sporting goods, etc.)
  • Recycling bottles and cans,
  • Driving for Uber or Lyft,
  • Babysitting or pet sitting
  • Selling your plasma. In San Diego, Scantibody Labs is the main company that does this.  There are some pretty strict rules about this so if you have a lot of tattoos or piercings you may not qualify. I have super tiny veins, so I am unable to do it.
  • Selling your stuff on Craigslist, or apps like Close5 or OfferUp.
  • Tutoring kids or offering lessons in an area that you excel in (musical instruments, art, sewing, math, cooking, etc.)
  • Finding items at thrift shops or garage sales and re-selling them on eBay or other sites for a profit.

A lot of these can be done from the comfort of your home, or can be done in conjunction with your normal errands, so there is no extra money spent on gas.

What is your hustle? How do you make extra money?

How to make money: 6 tips that really work (because I do them!)

money-coins
So last week I wrote about ways to save money without coupons, today we are talking about ways you can actually make money.

These are all things that I do. None of them are iffy, weird, or involve you selling your blood.

  1. Surveys online. Here are two fer shure, legit companies that I use. Pinecone Research (they are always looking for 12-24 or Hispanic demographics) pays $3.00 paypal per survey! My other favorite is PaidViewPoint– They only send you surveys that you qualify for, so there is no wasted time. Payout is only $15.00, so I make payout about every other month. It’s not tons of work, and every little bit helps!
  2. I use cashback apps. My full list of favs can be found here. No lie, I cash out about $50.00 a month between all of the apps downloaded onto my iPhone!
  3. Recycle... Return your bottles and cans for their deposit money. You aren’t really making money so much as you are getting your deposit back. Depending on how much soda/bottled water you consume.
  4. Secret shopping. There are tons of apps and websites that will help you find secret shopping gigs. I recommend checking out Volition.com for a listing of secret shopping companies (and reviews). A few of my friends recommend jobslinger.com as a great resource. I earn about $25.00/week doing secret shopping and that’s for less than 1 hours work! Oh, and I can take Bitty Bird along with me!
  5. Clean out your Closets! About once a month, it seems the kids have grown out of something. Whether it be clothes, toys, or gear. I clean it up and take it to the resale shop. I can either get store credit or cash. There are resale shops for adult clothing, sporting supplies, even furniture!
  6. Turn your Junk Mail into Cash! I’ve been doing this for YEARS, and I love it. You can learn all about Small Business Knowledge Center here.  I just got another $20 Visa GC in the mail yesterday! My second this year!

There are other ways to make money: Have a garage sale, Drive for Uber or Lyft (our friend Brittany does it. She loves it driving for Lyft- she makes her own hours, and gets to meet all kinds of people).

 

How do you make extra money?