“I had no idea who would be sending that money. I wasn’t expecting any money, so I got real nervous.”
That was Robie Thacker's reaction when a check for $3,500 arrived at her house, no letter included.
A few days earlier, in the process of applying for a job on Craigslist, the struggling college student included her address and email.
“I got a text message two days later saying I got the job,” said Thacker
Then came the envelope with the check, and she went directly to the bank.
“They looked at it and said, ‘I believe this is a fraudulent check,’” said Thacker.
Those fraudulent checks often come with instructions for the recipient.
“They’ll typically tell you to deposit the funds into your account and then wire some of the money back,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Michael Romano.
That would have left Thacker in a bind.
“I would have been responsible for the entire amount,” she said.
Romano says this crime should be easy to spot if you know the warning sign.
“No one you don’t know out of the blue, no one, will send you money. It just does not happen,” he said.
Postal Inspectors say there are several variations to this crime. Sometimes a check will arrive with a letter, claiming you have been chosen as a mystery shopper, and directing you to shop at certain stores.
Sometimes victims receive a fake money order. If you can see Ben Franklin’s head without holding the money
order up to the light, it’s a fake.
Whatever the situation, there's a simple solution.
“Don’t ever cash a check you’re not expecting, because it can really come back and hurt you,” Thacker said.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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