By Katie Ritchie
A new scam is taking advantage of 20-somethings.
The Federal Trade Commission said consumers in their twenties have been hardest hit by fake check scams. Median individual losses are almost $2,000.
The target is promised an investment or job opportunity or is told they’ve won a prize. The target is sent a check, as promised, and then has to send a portion of the check’s value to a 3rd party. The target deposits the check. Banks have to make funds available quickly by law. The target thinks the check has cleared when the funds appear in their account.
Since everything has happened the way the scammer said it would, the target sends them money. The funds are requested to cover materials if it’s an income opportunity scam. If it’s a sweepstakes prize, it’s a “processing” or “shipping” fee.
A few weeks later, the bank catches up. The target is hit with banking fees for the fake check and the deposit is gone. To make matters worse, the money they sent the scammer’s gone, too.
Scammers also send checks for too much money. Rather than re-issue a check, the scammer asks for the difference to be sent back. The results are the same.
Don’t use money from an unknown check to send anything. It’s unsafe to send checks, gift cards, money orders, or wire transfer money. Once you send the funds to scammers, it’s gone.
Don’t accept checks for more than your selling price. It’s a scam. If it’s an honest mistake, they can send a replacement or money order.
Don’t accept prizes you have to pay for. If you have to pay to receive a prize, it’s a scam. Throw the offer out.