In this economy, the prospect of easy money, big money, is an almost irresistible temptation. But, as the following will show, it not only must be resisted, but thoroughly investigated.
My wife received a letter in the U.S. Mail. Always . Even with the USPS in dire straights, they continue to exist. So, letters are inevitable.
The letter begins, "you have been identified as needing money." I suppose so. We've complained about it on Facebook, and Twitter, for ages. The offer is to become a "Secret shopper." That's legitimate. The company, although I've never heard of them, is based in Minnetonka, MN. They even sent a check to cover the first job.
I was immediately and justifiably suspicious. I looked at the check: $1530.00. Way to much for a "shopper." They wanted Trish to cash the check, keep 300 for her services, pay $90.00 to Western Union, then wire the rest to them in an attempt to evaluate the service. They even sent an "evaluation form."
I started an investigation. I looked up the bank -- it existed. I looked up the name of the place that wanted the evaluation. It existed. Then I looked at the envelope. CANADIAN POSTMARK. This letter is from Minnesota, why does it have a Canadian Postmark?
No return address. These are red flags.
The address of the place was accurate. But the phone numbers seemed odd; I'm from MN, originally. This phone number was 1-818-666-xxxx. The 666 didn't seem right. I checked. Yes, it exists -- IN CALIFORNIA. Why would a Minnesota company be using a California phone number? There was a fax number, too. It was an 800 number. But thanks to the 'net, I was able to determine that that number is in New Jersey. That's odd. Minnesota company, Canadian postmark, with a California voice phone and a NJ fax? UNH-UH.
The Bank, as I said, existed -- in INDIANAPOLIS.
I finally called the bank. I asked them to verify the check. The Routing Number was correct. But what they told me was "This is not a valid check number." IE, This is COUNTERFEIT!
If the check had been cashed, my wife would have been ON THE HOOK for $1530.00. The bank told me to tear up the check, or contact the local authorities, or the FBI.
I then called the company from whom the check allegedly was. They were aware of the scam. Fortunately.
So, I gathered All the info I had, and took it all to the local police, 12 miles away. They now have the fake check, the letter, and the envelope. IF the phone numbers are investigated and found to be involved, it's curtains for those morons.
Can YOU imagine being held responsible for something you believed was real? And to the tune of over 1500 bucks, plus criminal charges?
This makes the point. BE SURE you INVESTIGATE thoroughly if you get something like this. Examine the phone numbers. Check the addresses. CALL THE PLACES -- not the numbers on the checks, nor on the letter -- LOOK THEM UP! Verify if the stuff is real. If you don't, I can't be responsible. I've done my best, AS I SEE IT, to warn you. YOU must take the warning to heart. If it, it could be jail. It's up to you to protect yourself; I am not your keeper. You must be your own!