Posted: 02:40 p.m., August 12, 2009 (Charleston Post & Courrier)
Treasurer’s office warns about check scam
State Treasurer Converse Chellis put out a warning that a scammer is issuing fake state checks to “mystery shoppers.” Don’t cash it.
Here is how it works: The bogus company will send a check to you and ask you to cash it. The scammer tells the victim to keep a some of the money and wire the rest to an address. The check is designed to look like one from the South Carolina State Treasurer’s Office, according to Chellis’ office. Be careful because the checks look real.
It is a pretty classic scam. If you deposit the fraudulent check and wire a portion of the money, the banks often draw the money from your personal account when the check can’t be processed.
“The State Treasurer’s Office has a number of security measures we have put in place to help secure our state’s financial resources,” Chellis said in a statement. “We are able to catch fraudulent activity before the state loses money.”
The Treasurer’s Office says they can’t discuss details as a security precaution, but they did say that they have helped to stop a number of checks from being cashed and funds dispersed.
Legitimate state checks issued have the treasurer’s name and his signature clearly printed on them, according to Chellis’ office.
For questions, call the Treasurer’s Office at 803-734-2101.
A 39-year-old James Island man told Charleston County sheriff's deputies he lost more than $3,000.00 when he replied to a letter he'd received telling him that he'd been selected as a "secret shopper" according to police reports.
The victim, whose identity was withheld, told deputies that he got a letter from a company named Job Solutions on Oct. 29, 2009, and the letter contained a check for $3,685.00, reports said. The letter gave him a phone number to call for instructions. He placed the call and was told to but the $3,685.00 check into his personal account, which he did. Once that was done, he was instructed to go to Walmart and spend $100.00 and he was then to wire $2,980.00 via Western Union to a person in Canada, which he did.
He later checked his bank balance e and learned that the original check had not cleared.
The bank told him the check had been written from a non-existent account. The case remains under investigation.
WORK AT HOME
5 Work-at-Home Scams to Avoid
WORK-AT-HOME SCAMS — which lure people in by promising thousands of dollars a week for just a few hours’ work — aren't just proliferating in the down economy. They're also getting tougher to distinguish from legitimate employment offers.For the millions scouring web sites and newspapers looking for work — at 8.5%, unemployment is at a 25-year high — the pressure to find income can cloud better judgment, making scams even harder to detect. “There’s such desperation among a lot of people to find a legitimate way to make some money,” says Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire, a New York-based employment company.Some scammers go as far as contacting job seekers who have posted their resumes on career web sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, Johnson says. “Even when you’re using legitimate resources, you have to be vigilant if it’s a work-at-home opportunity.”
There are plenty of red flags that can help you recognize a work-at-home scam. If an ad promises big earnings for a few hours’ work, with little or no experience required, it’s likely not legit. Many of those scams also try to create a sense of urgency, telling you that you only have a certain number of days — if not hours — to respond, or there are a limited number of positions left. It’s a tactic borrowed from infomercials that isn't used by real recruiters, Johnson says. Demanding a large upfront fee or asking for your bank account number should also raise your guard.Here are five work-at-home schemes that can be difficult to distinguish from a legitimate employment opportunity.
We’ve all sent in for a rebate or two at some point, so processing rebate forms at home sounds like a believable — albeit tedious — opportunity. In reality, very few such offers are legitimate, says Christine Durst, CEO of Staffcentrix, a firm that provides virtual-careers training to the U.S. Department of State and the Armed Forces. "Only a couple of companies actually do process rebates and they require that you live within a certain radius of the company because you have to do pick-up and drop-off,” she says.The opportunities advertised, meanwhile, usually turn out to have very little to do with rebate processing. Once you pay the upfront fee — typically around $200 — you're likely to be told that you have to start your own web site and become an affiliate marketer for various kinds of products, from e-books to vitamins, Durst says. You need to advertise online — at an additional cost — and if you don’t sell any product, you won’t make a penny. Where the rebate part comes in: If you do sell something, you’ve got to pay the buyer a rebate, ironically, out of your own sales commission.
Mystery shopping is a legitimate niche where organizations pay consumers to shop at specific retailers and then report back on their shopping experience. The scammers’ version: You are told you will "mystery shop" a Western Union or MoneyGram outlet. You will receive a check with instructions to deposit it in your bank account, withdraw a certain portion of it and wire the money via Western Union or MoneyGram. You are allowed to keep a percentage as your commission. The hitch: That check is fraudulent and your bank will withdraw the money from your account.
eBay POWER SELLER TRAINING
Yes, a lot of people make legitimate profits on eBayBut be wary of offers to purchase training kits or register for seminars that, often at the cost of thousands of dollars, purport to teach you how to become an eBay power seller yourself. Earlier this month, the California attorney general’s office ordered that two such companies pay nearly $350,000 in restitutions to California residents who have or plan to file complaints with the AG’s office. The companies promised customers that they could earn full-time incomes by selling merchandise on the Internet, according to Scott Gerber, spokesman for the state attorney general’s office. “In reality, most people end up losing money and very few make money,” he says. EBay didn’t return our calls seeking comment.
ASSEMBLY AND CRAFT WORK
Crafty job seekers may be enticed by offers to assemble products at home, whether it’s gluing together little ornaments, sewing tutu dresses or some other hands-on activity. And such offers could be perfectly legitimate. If so, they will require you to purchase a kit containing the materials to make the product and a sample of that product. But you'll be asked to mail one item that you’ve made for the company to approve and only then proceed to make the rest — and get paid. Scammers, meanwhile, want you to send them all the items at once and then reject your work with no pay whatsoever.
A classic “biz in a box” scam, ads for medical billing opportunities tell you there is a severe shortage of people processing medical claims — so why not jump in and make some money yourself? You don’t need much training to do it other than that provided by the training materials, software and even potential client lists. The catch: Those start-up kits can cost between $2,000 and $8,000, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Once you put out the cash, you realize that finding clients isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, especially for a newcomer to this fiercely competitive business. Most doctors process their claims in house, or use big, already-established firms.
The FBI issues SCAM Warnings that can be viewed at,