Real Stories - Fake Check Scams

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Karl had experienced trouble finding work and was open to job opportunities that offered good pay. He accepted an offer that arrived in a legitimate-looking email message saying he could earn money by evaluating the customer service he received while shopping in certain retail stores.

The "company" sent Karl a check for $2,950 and instructed him to deposit the check, and then quickly go to a series of stores to send money orders totaling $2,600 to specific addresses provided by the company. After making the wire transfers, he was instructed to provide feedback on the store employees' demeanor, helpfulness and so on. Karl’s new employer stressed that he needed to fulfill the assignment as quickly as possible. He was told to keep the remaining $350 for completing the task. While Karl was ecstatic about the chance to make easy money, he wondered whether the offer might be too good to be true and called his bank to see if the check had cleared. When a bank representative told him it had, he immediately completed the wired payments, notified the company and emailed his report.

Karl soon discovered that his bank account had been debited for $2,950, the full amount of the check he had deposited and, he thought, had cleared. Bank representatives explained to him that the check was fraudulent. In effect, Karl had wired $2,600 of his own money— nearly all the money in his account. In recapping the experience, he laughed and faulted the bank.

Karl's story highlights several factors that contributed to his experience: his need for income, his wish for "easy money", his unfamiliarity with fake check scams, his response to the time pressures placed on him by the scammers, and his belief that the check was confirmed as valid when the bank makes the funds available.











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