Check Cashing Scam (Nigerian Or Otherwise) Beware!

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Check Cashing Scam (Nigerian Or Otherwise) Beware!

After writing two previous articles regarding home-based business scams, I thought I had

done a pretty thorough job describing many of the scams that continue to plague those looking to make a good living from the comfort of their home. However, after receiving a troubling phone call from my sister-in-law, I realized that there was more work to be done. She called and said that she wanted to run an opportunity by me that she had come across because my brother had told her that I knew quite a bit about scams. What she described to me was the classic check cashing scam that has robbed endless unsuspecting people of millions of dollars.

Although I knew about this particular “opportunity”, I chose not to include it in my previous articles because I truly believed that most people knew about it. However, after I told my sister-in-law to not only run in the other direction, but report what she had received to the proper authorities, she tried to convince me that it had to be legitimate. Her reasoning for believing it to be legitimate was as follows: they had a very professional website, the checks that she received in the mail looked very authentic, and they never asked for her bank account or Social Security number.

With my sister-in-law being an intelligent, level headed individual, I knew that I needed to write an article dedicated to this topic. If she believed it, how many others were still falling for this scam? Let me explain how it worked for my sister-in-law. Keep in mind that the techniques used to scam you will depend on the person that you are dealing with, but the end result is always the same (you’re out a whole lot of money). My sister-in-law responded to two different job postings on Craigslist requesting that those who would like to be paid a significant amount of money for only a few hours a week send a request for information to an e-mail address. She did so and quickly received a response from both “companies”.

It was explained to her that they were looking for financial representatives to cash checks that had been received from their customers. Unfortunately the foreign “companies” were unable to cash the out of country payments because of some legal or financial reason. My sister-in-law would need to take the checks to her bank, deposit them into her account, and send 90% of the money to a foreign address. For her very brief trouble, she would get to keep a 10% commission. Both companies requested her name, address, and some other very general information. Neither asked for her Social Security number or any bank account number, hence her proof that it must not be a scam!

It was at that point that both “companies” proceeded to send her checks (without her consent I might add) with instructions on how to cash them and where to send the money. One of the “companies” had sent her a very authentic looking check for $4000 from a Bank in Canada while the other sent her $2500 in American Express travelers checks. I will admit that the checks looked extremely authentic and it would have been very difficult for a novice to tell whether or not they were legitimate… her second reason for believing. My sister-in-law checked out the website listed and found it to be professional looking…her third reason.

After going back and forth with her for almost a week, she finally decided to call American Express and ask them if the checks were authentic. It took American Express about a half of a second to tell her emphatically that the checks were definitely fraudulent and not to cash them. She was very disappointed when she called me to tell me that I was correct and it was yet another scam. She would have loved to make $650 for just a few minutes of her time. If she has taken the money to her bank and deposited into her account, here is what would have happened…

The teller would have deposited the checks into her account because, as stated previously, the checks appear to be legitimate to the untrained eye. Due to the current law, a bank must make funds available even if the check has not completely cleared. One company even instructed her not to cash the check until it had cleared obviously playing into this law and trying to gain her trust. She would have sent the money off to the foreign address and gleefully spent her commission. A month or more later, the bank would have called her and informed her that she must repay them the entire amount of the check because it was fraudulent.

Although my sister-in-law never cashed the check and informed the “companies” that she was not interested in their scam, they still sent her letters asking her why she was taking so long to send the funds. One of the “companies” even went so far as to send her a letter threatening to contact the authorities if she did not follow through on their contract (although there never was one). Unfortunately for her, she is now receiving e-mails from other companies and individuals requesting that she become a financial representative. Each person’s story is different, but it always comes down to cashing checks and sending off the money. There is no reason why a legitimate company would need someone else to cash their checks. And, just because a business opportunity requires no upfront costs or bank account information, it does not make it legitimate. Working from home is a wonderful, freedom filled experience, but this opportunity will only cause you great financial hardship.

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