I was recently at a workshop and heard from Steve Baker from the Federal Trade Commission and Michael Schaubschlager from the United States Postal Inspection Service. They talked about fraud and scams not only over the internet but using the United States Postal Service and how to recognize and prevent them.
These days’ thieves are everywhere and with the internet they are only a mouse click away from being able to steal from you. In Minnesota for 2005 there were 867 money orders turned into the FTC that were a part of an investigation totaling over $740,000. Every one of these money orders was a forgery and trying to be used to defraud somebody of their hard earned money.
Mr. Baker works with the Federal Trade Commission to recognize, prevent and stop consumer fraud and scams. With only about 1000 employees in the FTC they do not necessarily apprehend, arrest and or prosecute these criminals who are committing consumer fraud. They work hard to educate the public, stop the fraud and scams and bring other authorities into the situation. Many times they bring civil lawsuits against the perpetrators of the scams and fraud to get people back their money. This is far better than having the criminal go to jail or get fined and the person who got scammed not getting their money back. They also work tirelessly with the FBI, US Postal Service, local law enforcement and others to make everyone aware of the scams and fraud and to bring further action wherever possible.
The biggest scams and fraud to date involve counterfeit money orders. Any kind of payment, loan, or lottery pay off dealing with a money order is probably a scam. The use of fraudulent money orders has sky rocketed and become a major concern not only for the United States but Canada as well. It is estimated that half of all Western Union money transfers to Quebec are part of a scam or fraud. What am I talking about by money order or western union scams and fraud?
If you work for anyone anywhere, get any kind of payment or lottery winning in any form of a money order it is probably a scam, it goes like this. The internet job description sounds very good, work for a few hours a day, shopping, stuffing envelopes or one of many different kinds of jobs. Just cash this money order and take some for you and send the rest to us in the form of a western union transfer.
Or to receive the lottery winnings you have not even entered any lottery for you have to cash a money order and send part of the money you get from your bank to them.
You do not of course get to keep the money they say you do because several days, or even weeks later the money order you deposited in your account, or cashed with your bank is going to bounce, well, like Tigger. It takes days and weeks for banks and other financial institutes to tell if a money order is fake, not just minutes. The average teller does not know and usually is not trained to spot fake checks or money orders. It is usually someone at the bank or even at the federal reserves that spot the fake and the flag goes up. Because you cashed the money order through your account you have to cover the amount that you sent out or received for the money order. You cashed it, you are responsible for any money that you thought was good because of it.
When you deposit a check, cash a check or money order the bank accepts it quickly at that time so they can help the next customer and to get you on your way. This is common among all banks and financial institutions, just a matter of quick and courteous service. If you deposit something a teller usually looks at it for about ten seconds, if that, puts it through a reader to see that the numbers get read by the machine there and it goes into a cubby hole to be processed later in the day or the next business day. The check or money order will go through several processes throughout the upcoming weeks and it may be at any one of these, at the bank or elsewhere that it is found to be counterfeit. It will not be found the day you deposit it unless it is such a terrible job of forgery that it is obvious to the teller. As long as the reader at the tellers station accepts the block numbers on the check or money order it is good as far as they are concerned. It is up to the bank employees in the back to tell if it is a forgery which happens later.
This is where people have a hard time understanding these kinds of scams and how they happen. Every bank and financial institution has pretty much the same policy with regards to depositing or cashing checks into your account or using your account to guarantee the check. You are responsible for money coming and going from your account. If you deposit a check you should make sure it clears and is good before using money from it. I cannot stress this part enough. Do not use any money from any check until the check has cleared. Do not hope that it will clear and use your own money. If you deposit a check or money order you should wait till that money order or check has cleared on your statement before withdrawing money for it. If you do not wait you will be responsible for the money you withdraw because you thought it was a good money order or check. The bank does not care that you trusted someone you don’t know, they care that money went out and that the check or money order is bad. They will of course work with you to find out who wrote the check or money order but it was your problem that you trusted the person who gave you the money order or check. You are responsible for any money you withdraw or send out from your account. If you are counting on a money order as a deposit and send money out before it clears, it is your problem.
So don’t trust anyone you don’t know. Any job you get that is real and not a scam will pay using a regular check made out to you in the full amount of what the job was for. Not extra and you have to pay or send money to someone else. There is no reason for anyone to act as a bank for someone else, that is what banks are for. If someone wants you to cash a check or money order for them you should run away far and fast, it is a scam.
So jobs like secret shoppers are probably a scam, stores do hire secret shoppers but they are regular paid employees who get a regular check and who go on a regular job interview in person.
Envelope stuffers are a non existent job, machines can do this cheaper, easier and faster than any human. Many other jobs you see that are work from home are scams such as Postal and government jobs being advertised over the internet or at job searches. The US government and Post Office do not advertise jobs, except recruiting for the military. They get enough people applying through their web sites. Vending machine jobs that are advertised and you never go to any job interview is probably a scam as well, lets face it, most any job that you can get where you never see anyone, never have to do anything other than sit at home and do some menial task and get paid through some silly money order or transfer money from accounts is a scam. If the job is real you will get a regular pay check for it that goes only to you.
This web site you are reading this on is one example of a real job you can do at home. They pay directly to me through Paypal. There are others but if any job has some deal where you have to get paid by cashing a money order and sending some of it to someone else it is a scam.
Today it is hard enough making money and feeding your family be smart and ask questions of jobs or things you get in the mail or over the internet. Do not think you will get something for free. Lotteries do not just happen, you have to enter them. Almost every lottery email you get is a scam, almost every letter or email you get to make quick money at home by doing easy work is a scam and fraud. If the payment for anything involves money orders run right to the post office and give them the counterfeit money order. Do not cash it. If the person giving you a money order is not a friend or relative be suspicious of it to start with. Do not accept payment for anything by money order, get cash and write a receipt. You can wait till the bank opens for them to cash it, not you.
Your money is precious to you, don’t throw it away thinking you can get rich by cashing money orders for other people.