September 2, 2014

New target for an old scam

It seems innocent enough. Someone contacts you through an online classified ad and offers to send a check for more than the agreed upon price. All you have to do is wire back the extra money. Of course, what actually ends up happening is you cashed a fake check, and you have lost the money you sent and any fees the bank is likely to hit you with.

Sandy Chalmers with the state Division of Consumer Protection says it’s a scam that’s been around for a while, but people still keep falling for it. The latest group being targeted is online ads from individuals offering babysitting services.

AUDIO: Sandy Chalmers, DATCP (:20)

Chalmers says the agency has received reports from individuals who have been offered a job with an advance payment. All they have to do is cash the check and send the extra money back. She says any situation where such a deal is proposed is pretty much guaranteed to be a scam, so online job hunters should just move on.

Other warning signs to watch out for include payments coming from overseas or if the person you are in contact with is only willing to communicate through email. Chalmers also suggests only dealing with checks drawn from a bank with a local branch, so they can verify it is legitimate before it’s cashed.