Scam (too good to be true) lure courtesy of miriyaparino at Flickr.
Counterfeit checks like all the ones recently discovered by an International law enforcement team being sent from Nigeria aren't the only bogus financial instruments being sent all over the world.
In this recent effort against this activity, over 15,000 counterfeit instruments were discovered in a months time.
For the past couple of weeks, I've received a lot of e-mail and blog comments from people receiving counterfeit American Express gift cheques in the mail with instructions to cash them and wire the proceeds (minus a paltry commission) back to the sender (scammer).
The reason for all the e-mails and comments are because of previous posts, I've written about these counterfeit financial instruments.
Other than having their financial world ruined, there are reports of people getting arrested after trying to pass some of these instruments. One victim recently wrote me after discovering she had been scammed -- and told me that when she tried to report her problems to the authorities, they advised her to seek legal advice before proceeding -- or she might be charged with money laundering.
The American Express gift cheques can be verified by calling 1-800-525-7641.
Counterfeit MoneyGram and U.S. Postal money orders are still also being sent to people as payment for goods, or in too good to be true lures that are nothing more than a scam.
A lot of these bogus financial instuments come from work-at-home scams, secret shopper, romance, lottery and auction scams. New varieties of these scams appear from time to time, but the common denominator in any advance fee (419) scam is that it is too good to be true and it makes little, to no sense.
Another common denominator in most of these scams is that they will try to get you to wire money. Here is what I wrote about this in a previous post:
The fraudsters want you to cash these counterfeit gift cheques and send (normally wire) the money back to them. When they are discovered to be fraudulent -- you end up taking the "rap" for the scammer and they disappear in an "electronic mist."If you've received any of these items in the mail, I've compiled a lot of information on how to identify them and report them to the right people, here.
Another development being seen is that real scammers are getting their hands on these instruments, who have no intention of wiring any money, anywhere. In effect, they are scamming the scammers. This makes it a lot harder to figure out, whether or not, a person is a victim or a scammer. Maybe this is one of the reasons more people are getting arrested?
Of course, if the victim never wired the money, they are probably lining their own pockets (my opinion).
The bottom line is that falling, or getting involved in one of these scams can cause you a lot of financial pain and suffering and you might even get into worse trouble.