A new scam making its way across the U.S. is targeting those who need money fast, or who are in a desperate situation.
“It is truly what the public doesn’t know that is hurting them,” said Dennis Horton of the Better Business Bureau.
Officials from the Better Business Bureau and Federal Post Office inspectors are teaming up to send a new warning to residents: scammers will send a check in the mail that looks real, and then tell the recipient to cash it and send them a specific amount back from their bank account.
The trouble is, the check will ultimately bounce, leaving the recipient on the hook for the money.
“Having the money credited to your bank account does not mean the check is good,” Horton said.
When a check is deposited into an account, banks will make those funds available right away, until the check is found to be fake. But before the bank can make that determination, it’s usually too late.
“It can be anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, where the bank informs the victim that the check was counterfeit,” Horton said. “It’s too late then, and the victim is held responsible for paying it back.”
Scammers are typically targeting the unemployed, young people, or the elderly that are inclined to need money fast, or vulnerable to these tactics.
“We see these types of scams quite often, because of the massive amount of advertising they do online, targeting vulnerable individuals,” said Nicholas Bucciarelli, a U.S. Postal Inspector.
Postal inspectors warn: if it sounds too good to be true, take precautions to protect yourself, and never cash checks from someone you don’t know.
“A lot of times, these scammers are overseas,” Bucciarelli said. “A lot of these come from different parts of the world and it’s tough, sometimes, to track them down. That’s why we get out and try to partner with other agencies, other federal agencies, the BBB, to get the awareness out.”
Anyone who receives the letters or messages should contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.