We’ve all heard the scenario: You receive a check or money order and notification that you’ve won some kind of sweepstakes. The sender asks you to deposit it into your account, keeping a portion of “your winnings”, and then wire-transferring them a portion of it “to cover the taxes” so you can collect the rest of your winnings.
The reality is, the check will be counterfeit and you’ll be out the entire amount, typically hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
As a financial institution, we see our fair share of fraudulent activities and efforts to scam our unsuspecting members. Luckily, ECCU financial service representatives are trained on spotting these scams, asking lots of questions when something looks fishy, and ultimately helping to protect members from losing money. While staff is knowledgeable and always looking out for in your best interest, we may not catch fraud cases 100% of the time.
Thankfully, the United States Postal Inspection Service has a lot of advice on how you too can spot – and avoid – the efforts of today’s tricky fraudsters and scammers. Here are some red flags:
Red Flag #1: You’re overpaid for an item you sold on the internet. The buyer then asks you to wire-transfer back the extra dollars. Reality: The check or money order is counterfeit, will be returned to your bank unpaid, and the entire amount will be deducted from your account.
Red Flag #2: An offer to work from home comes with an initial check to deposit into your bank account. The company promises that you can keep a portion of the amount after mailing back the rest. Reality: The check or money order is counterfeit, will be returned to your bank unpaid, and the entire amount will be deducted from your account.
Red Flag #3: You’ve just won a foreign lottery! Someone calls to inform you that you’ve just won a large lottery, and to claim your prize, you need to send a small amount to cover taxes and fees before you can receive the lump sum. Reality: no legitimate lottery should ask you for money to claim your prize.
Red Flag #4: “You must act right away to claim your money.” Giving an ultimatum or deadline to send any amount of money to claim a prize is a pressure tactic. Reality: Con-artists want you to feel panicked that you’re going to lose out on a large sum of money so you don’t think twice about padding their pockets and emptying yours.
Red Flag #5: “Win a computer! Increase your chances of winning by making a small purchase.” In legitimate sweepstakes, everyone has an equal chance of winning. Reality: It’s against the law to require a payment or purchase to be entered for a chance to win sweepstakes.
For more information, victim help, and to report mail crime, visit the U.S. Postal Inspection Service website.
Source: US Postal Inspection Service