BBB Warns of Cashier's Check Fraud - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/24/05

BBB Warns of Cashier's Check Fraud

There's a new scam making the rounds and into mailboxes all over the Coastal Empire and Low Country. It involves fake checks and is tied into those lottery and sweepstakes mailings we all get. They all claim we won something. But in this scam, they want you to cash a phony cashier's check with your bank.

The Better Business Bureau is warning everyone not to do it.

It all starts at the mailbox for Aldridge Bell of Savannah. He's seen every kind of sweepstakes and lottery mailing, and he responds to them all.

"They sent a check for $4,000 and I was excited," Bell told us. "So I took it to the bank and they said it was a fraud."

Ross Howard of the Better Business Bureau knows all about the cashier check scam. "It's all bogus," he said. His phone at the BBB has been ringing off the hook.

"I would call this an epidemic," he said.

Howard points his finger at sweepstakes mailings like the one Bell got. One example comes with a cashier's checks made out to you for nearly $9,000. If you cash it, it's your first step towards collecting the $90,000 lump sum, just a portion of the $625,000 grand prize.

"There's always a big money prize," Howard said. "Sometimes as much as a million dollars. I'd like to win that money too."

Howard says, like many scams, this one originates out of Canada. That's red flag number one. Red flag number two is the letter claims the $9,000 cashier's check covers taxes.

"That's not the way it works," Howard said. "They don't pay taxes. You pay taxes."

Before the scam is caught by the banks, Howard says some people are asked to send money in advance and do. And even the banks get fooled.

"I have seen banks take counterfeit checks and deposit them into a person's account," Howard said.

Even worse, catching the culprits is almost impossible.

"When they send me a letter now, I throw it in the trash," said Bell.

If you get one of these counterfeit cashier's check mailings, the Better Business Bureau wants to hear from you. It does appear scammers are zeroing in on this area very heavily.

And it's not just mail, but email and phone calls. Email can be tricky because all you have to do is click on the wrong link, and a scammer can get access to personal information. It's called phishing. If you don't know who the email is from, delete it.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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