Beware of a scam in which thieves give you money, then rob

Beware of a scam in which thieves give you money, then rob

If you receive a check for a large amount of money from a stranger and you’re asked to return part of the payment right away – beware. Chances are you’re getting scammed.

This swindle takes several forms. You may receive a check that overpays for a rental property you’ve advertised, and you’ll be asked to send the balance to cover the overpayment. Or maybe you’ve posted something on eBay and a buyer “mistakenly” sends you a check that’s much higher than the amount required.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has intercepted more than $2 billion in counterfeit checks involved in such scams.

A Good Morning America report about this scheme featured the tragic story of a young woman who needed money to pay medical bills. She received $90,000 as the winner of a European lottery (which she had not entered), and was asked to return a substantial amount to cover taxes and fees. She deposited the $90,000, the check cleared, and she sent off a check for $40,000. Her bank later informed her that the first check was returned for insufficient funds and she was unable to retrieve her $40,000. In despair, she committed suicide.

This con game has victimized so many people that the USPIS has launched a consumer awareness campaign. You can read more details about how this scam is perpetrated and how to defend yourself against it at this website:

Please forward this e-Alert to your friends and family so they’ll be on the lookout for this malicious con.