Some attempts at fraud are blatantly obvious. For instance: that typo-filled email you got from a sketchy sounding foundation asking you to send them your account information or wire them money so that they can send you a cash award you’ve never even heard of.
Others are sneakier—and can be more devastating when they claim victims. We’ve recently had members bring to our attention a rising number of scams related to Craiglist and secret shoppers.
In one version of these scams, a member will receive a check with a letter asking her to use the funds to make purchases at a certain store in order to participate in the secret shopper program, keep some of the money as reimbursement for the time involved, and wire the excess back to the sender.
In another, a member receives a check with a letter asking him to cash it, keep a certain amount of the money, and send the rest back via Western Union or another wire transfer service in order to secretly evaluate the service provided by the wire transfer company.
Or a member responding to a job posting on Craigslist may receive notification that she got the position and that her “future employer” is sending her a check to cover moving expenses. The check will be larger than that amount, so the “employer” will ask to have the extra wired back.
In all of these cases, the checks will turn out to be fraudulent. If they are not identified as such before the victim sends money to the scammer, he or she will have lost whatever amount was sent.
The best way to protect yourself from these sorts of fraud attempts is to ask questions. We urge members to consider the following before replying to an online ad or transferring funds to someone you do not know personally:
- Does the reward or payment make sense for the task involved?
- Am I sending money to someone (or a business) that I was previously unfamiliar with?
- Am I being asked to return money via wire transfer, Western Union, or other methods?
- Does the offer sound too good to be true?
Consumers trains its staff to look for situations ripe for fraud in order to protect our members and their money. If you are approached with a suspicious offer, like the scenarios above, please let us know so that we can assist you in preventing a scam-related loss.