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A Humboldt County woman recently received an unsolicited parcel in the mail containing a Cashier’s Check for $4,900 made out to the recipient and a letter with the U.S. Postal Service logo. The letter tells the recipient that they have been selected to participate in a consumer research survey evaluating their local Post Office branch. The letter instructs the recipient to cash the check at the bank and then go to the local post office to purchase four $1,000 money orders. The recipient is then instructed to contact a phone number for instructions on how and where to send the money orders. The letter states that the recipient can keep the extra $900 left over as commission and transportation earnings.
The offer may sound like a nice deal, but it’s too good to be true. The check or money order is a counterfeit. If deposited, it will be returned to the victim’s bank unpaid, and the full amount will be deducted from the victim’s account.
You are responsible for any check or money order you deposit to your account. If the check or money order turns out to be a counterfeit, or is returned unpaid for any reason, you are fully responsible for the loss. Federal law requires banks to make deposited funds available within 1 to 5 business days. Just because you can withdraw cash from your account soon after depositing a check or money order doesn’t mean the item you deposited is valid. It can be weeks before a check or money order is discovered to be a counterfeit and returned to your bank unpaid.
According to the National Consumers League, victims lose an average of $3,000 to $4,000 with this scam, but your losses could be even higher. If you used some of the money to pay bills or for other purposes, you’ll have to pay that amount back to your bank or credit union as well. There may also be bounced check and overdraft charges as a result of the scam. And you could lose more than money — your account could be closed and it could harm your credit rating.
Learn more about fake check scams here: https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2008/html/pb22225/html/kit_014.html
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
Visit https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds#item-35157 to learn how to report scams.