Let Joe Know: If you get a check in the mail and did nothing for it, it’s a scam - East Valley Tribune: Business

Let Joe Know: If you get a check in the mail and did nothing for it, it’s a scam

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ABC15 Investigator Joe Ducey is Arizona’s consumer alert expert. Watch his reports weekdays on ABC15 at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., and email him with questions or news tips anytime at jducey@abc15.com.

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:15 am

People send checks to me every day. Sometimes they are for hundreds of dollars. Other times, they’re written for more than $5,000. But I can’t cash them. And neither can the people who send them to me.

The checks end up in their mailbox from senders they don’t know, seemingly for no reason. They’re actually being sent from scammers. I’d like to tell these people something different, that the checks are good and they would call me “the maker of fortunes!”

Instead, I’ve become “the dream killer.”

Scammers send these checks and ask that part of the money be sent back to them. Or they ask that the person perform some “job” by wiring money to other people. By the time you find out the scammers’ check is bad, you’ve already spent your good money in their scheme. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that I get questions about different checks EVERY DAY.

For years, I’ve told people that if they did nothing to earn the check, it’s a scam. But I don’t think the message is getting through. So, with the latest batch of checks, I did something different. I called the banks listed on the check, and asked if there was any money available. Each time, I’d hear the same thing, in different ways: “the funds are not available at this time” or “it won’t clear” and even “it’s a scam.”

One time I did hear that the account was legitimate, but the banker couldn’t tell me for sure that there was money there for this check. She seemed confused. I understand why hope can sometimes trump reason. But I have seen these things end horribly for some consumers. One man lost more than $9,000. Other people had their bank accounts closed because of depositing a fraud check.

So, again I say, if you get a check for no reason, or for a contest you never entered, rip it up. If you just can’t bring yourself to do that, at least call the bank. And be prepared — you’ll likely be talking to another “dream killer.”

• Joe Ducey is helping people like you everyday on ABC15 News at 6 p.m. If you’ve got a consumer issue you can’t solve, “Let Joe Know.” Contact him at joe@abc15.com or (855) 323-1515.

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