Scamming is becoming an increasing problem these days. By now, most people have received spam emails advising you that you have "won a million dollars" or recently "inherited a fortune" from a long-lost, unknown Aunt in London and all you need to do is email them your bank account number and other personal information to collect your winnings- if we could all be so lucky. Most people are aware of this scam and delete the emails, but some do not and become victims.
The criminals are getting smarter, and in this tough economy, they are now preying on the most vulnerable victims- the unemployed and the elderly, the young and otherwise naive. Scams can range anywhere from a high-jacked Facebook message from an acquaintance saying they are stranded in a foreign land and need money wired as soon as possible, to the "receive and repackage" work-from-home job that is gaining in popularity. Scam artists will call or email you and say they are from a reputable source (family member, bank, charity, etc) and then ask for you to send money.
Bad Checks & Fake Job Posting Scams
Better yet, they will send you a check for several thousand dollars for an upcoming "job" you are to perform and then tell you they overpaid- simply cash the check, keep your pay then forward a check for the leftover money to another address. Let's think about this - if you wrote a check to someone (especially someone you don't know) and then realized it was several hundred dollars more than intended, would you still mail this check and trust this unknown person to mail you back the remaining money? Of course not! You would write a new check for the proper amount because you would not want to become the victim and lose your money. In these situations, you do become the victim because the check you receive is fraudulent and it takes several days and sometimes longer to clear with the bank. You leave the bank thinking it was a good check and that you will make a few bucks. After a few days, you will inevitably receive a call from your bank saying the check bounced and you are responsible to pay back the money. At this point, you most likely have already mailed back the overage and spent some, if not all, of your earnings. This will affect your pocketbook and possibly your credit record. Rest assured the person who sent the check will not be found, because they always give false names, addresses, account numbers, and phone numbers, and the money you sent them is most likely overseas by the time your check has bounced.
Many of you have seen the "work from home" jobs on Craigslist or are referred by an internet friend on a social networking site to an employer that allows you to receive packages at your home, repackage them and ship them off to another destination- in the U.S. or overseas- and send you a check for the amount of shipping plus your commission. These scams almost always involve stolen merchandise. This merchandise was either stolen directly from the store or purchased and shipped to you using a stolen credit card. Many times the item goes through several different channels before being delivered to the final destination which many times is overseas (Nigeria and Russia are two common locations.) Protect businesses and yourself by not getting involved in these criminal enterprises and if you happen to become a victim, always contact the police. Local and federal employees are working hard to stop these scams to keep you from becoming a victim. You could be protecting yourself from financial loss or worse still, a Receiving Stolen Property charge- and a criminal record.
Service / Repairman Scam
A long-time scam has been the service worker or repairman going door to door who then victimizes the resident. If someone knocks on your door and you do not know them, it is always safest to talk to them through the door or just not answer at all. Some scam artists will offer to fix your leaky roof or seal your driveway and ask you to come out of the house to see where the repair could be done, and when your back is turned their accomplice gets into your home and steals your valuables before you even receive the estimate. This scam can happen to anyone, but the elderly are often the target. Protect your elderly friends and family and educate them on these potential threats.
If You Are Suspicious of a Scam
If you have even the slightest suspicion over the authenticity of an email, phone call, service worker, or internet "job"- call 911 and an officer will assist you. Watch out for the elderly or otherwise vulnerable people in your community and help educate them on how to avoid becoming a victim. Remember that in Media, as well as the rest of Delaware County, the only way to reach a police officer is through 911, emergency or not. Common sense is your best defense. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.