SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The Consumer Federation of America found 1 in 3 American adults has received a counterfeit check, and more than a million victims have sent back money to the scammers.
Those statistics are several years old, and the figure is likely much higher now.
We decided to look into who is targeted, why the scam is effective, and how you can report it.
We talked with William Crocker who says he has gotten one check after another for 2 months now. But each one has been fake.
“I just want them to stop, because I don’t know what’s going on, how they got all of my information,” said Crocker.
Lisa Vandys with Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union says bogus work from home offers, fake lotteries, and romance scams are the top ways counterfeit check scammers target you.
She said one member recently fell victim to the romance scam after the scammer told her he was moving there and sent her a large check for the move, and instructed her on where to send the money.
“The member brought in a check for over $75,000. We received word 3 days later that the check was fraudulent, and so now that member is out several thousands of dollars because we hadn’t been able to recover everything that had already left the account,” said Vandys.
What these scams tend to have in common is that they say they’ve sent you too much money and ask you to send them some back, usually through a wire transfer, which is a big red flag.
In Crocker’s case, he never sent money back, but that doesn’t matter. He’s still out $200, simply for cashing the check and spending some of it.
“It was $1950 and I thought it was for when I overpaid on my health insurance at work cause they owe me money, and that’s why I deposited it.”
We asked Vandys how long you should wait before a check is cashed to make sure those funds are really in there, and she said, “Really we have up to 10 business days to verify the funds on that check. Nowadays, the Federal Reserve requires them to come back in, hopefully, 3 days, but matter on how they route it, it can take up to 10.”
Crocker still isn’t sure how he became a target, but we showed him how reporting the checks to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service may help.
“They are trying to get me, but it’s not going to happen,” he said.
And for now, the very best way to avoid getting scammed again is to rip them up.
If you are a victim of mail fraud, you can report it to the U.S Postal Inspection Service by calling 1-800-372-8347, or by filing a complaint online.