State Police warn residents about fake check scams

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The Delaware State Police are issuing a scam alert regarding fake checks.

The checks drive many types of scams – including phony prize wins, fake jobs, mystery shoppers and online classified ad sales.

In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check – sometimes for several thousand dollars and usually for more than you are owed – and wire some of the money back to that person.

Here’s how the scam works:

  • The buyer offers to purchase the product being sold, but at the last minute makes up an excuse on why he needs to write the check for more money than the cost of the item and asks the seller to wire (Western Union / Money Gram) the excess money back to the buyer.
  • The seller agrees, deposits the check, wires the money and ships the goods or physically gives them to the buyer.
  • A week or so later, the seller’s bank tells him the check bounced because it was a fake, so the seller’s bank account now owes the bank for the amount, AND the police may arrest the seller (for check fraud, counterfeiting, etc.)

This scam works because most people believe that a cashier’s check is as good as cash. With today’s computer and printer capabilities, almost anyone can make a very realistic looking fake check. People also don’t realize that wired money is immediate and irretrievable.

How you can protect yourself against check scams when selling something:

  • Call the issuing bank identified on the check, to verify the check is good for that amount.
  • Don’t give the buyer the property, whether it is a car, DVD’s/CDs or anything else, until the check has time to clear. If the buyer wants it immediately, ask for cash or see your bank for other payment methods, like a wire transfer that can be verified more quickly.

This information was provided by the ConsumerFraudReporting.org at http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/sellingscams.php**

If you suspect you have been a victim of this scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware crime stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or via the internet at http://www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com

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