I received a check from a new employer whom I met online. The employer needs me to send money back.
This is a typical fraud scam, usually referred to as a “work from home scam.” They usually start with a job posting on an online platform such as a social media site, online marketplace, or career-building website. The ad will boast short and flexible hours, great pay, and little training. The job may have you wrap your car in an advertisement. Or it may involve you becoming a secret shopper. Either way, the new employer will mail a check to you. Then they’ll expect you to deposit the check into your checking account and use the funds to purchase equipment or pay for items for the job.
The employer will request you send the remainder of the funds back immediately. They may ask that the money be sent by Western Union or MoneyGram. Or they may request you send the funds through a prepaid or gift card. By the time the check has been returned as fraudulent, you have sent money to a fraudster who is waiting to take it so it cannot be retrieved.
If you’ve decided to work for an employer you found online, be sure to research them thoroughly. Look up the business online, call them, and ensure the company is legitimate. Do not call the phone numbers provided in the paperwork sent by the “employer.”
If you’ve received a check, following these steps will help protect you from falling victim to a fraudulent check scam.
- Did the check come with a letter? If so, read the letter carefully. Many fraud scams start with a letter and a check. The letter will have instructions to send money or purchase a money order. Do an internet search to find out if other people have received letters for the same purpose.
- Research the business that issued the check. You’ll find the name of the business in the top left-hand corner of the check. If you find a listing online, call the business and ask them if they issued the check. Do not call the phone number provided on the check or in the email as it could lead back to the fraudster.
- If you have trouble finding any information, take the check to the financial institution that issued the check and they will be able to verify whether it’s legitimate.
- If you have concerns that the check may be fraudulent, take it and the accompanying letter to the nearest branch of your financial institution to discuss with a manager or call them.