The latest scam involves bogus checks that delivered via UPS. The checks are drawn on a business account of Laney Electrical Construction, INC. with a P.O. Box address in Wilmington, NC. Although the company is legitimate, the account has been closed.
The checks are printed in the amount of $2,100 to the payee. Attached to the check, is a note to contact a cell phone number by texting for information about the check. When the receiver texts a message to the supposed company, they will receive a message back to deposit the check into an account and then mail $500 to a specific location.
Fake check scams are clever ploys designed to steal your money. You can avoid becoming a victim by recognizing how the scams work.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming the next victim of a checking scam:
• They tell you to wire money to them after you've deposited the check. If you're selling something, they say they'll pay you by having someone in the U.S. who owes them money send you a check. It will be for more than the sale price; you deposit the check, keep what you're owed, and wire the rest to them. If it's part of a work-at-home scheme, they may claim that you'll be processing checks from their "clients." You deposit the checks and then wire them the money minus your "pay." Or they may send you a check for more than your pay "by mistake" and ask you to wire them the excess. In the sweepstakes and foreign money offer, they tell you to wire them money for taxes, customs, bonding, processing, legal fees, or other expenses that must be paid before you can get the rest of the money.
• The checks are counterfeit but they look real. In fact, they look so real that even tellers may be fooled. Some are phony cashier's checks, others look like they're from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their knowledge.
• You don't have to wait long to use the money, but that doesn't mean the check is good. Under federal law (Regulation CC), financial institutions have to make the funds you deposit available -- usually within one to five business days, sometimes longer, depending on the type of check.
• Just because you can withdraw the money does not mean the check is good, even if it's a cashier's check. It can take weeks for the counterfeit or forgery to be discovered and the check to bounce.
• You are responsible for the checks you deposit. That's because you're in the best position to determine the risk -- you're the one dealing directly with the person who is arranging for the check to be sent to you. When a check bounces, the financial institution deducts the amount that was originally credited to your account. If there isn't enough to cover it, the financial institution may be able to take money from other accounts you have at that institution, or sue you to recover the funds.
• There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier's check for the exact amount, preferably from a local credit union or bank, or a credit union or bank that has a branch in your area.
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