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Beware of creative online scam artists!

April 20, 2016

Online scam artists are getting more creative, it seems.  There are a number of online scams going around that you should be aware of this spring.

One scam that has been active recently involves online postings that offer someone a job. That job is to receive a check, deposit it and very quickly wire some of the money to a specific, anonymous and untraceable bank account. The scam is that the check is fraudulent and cannot be deposited, but often victims do not realize this until they have already wired money to the scam artist.

Remember: If a job or a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is — don't take it.

  • Do not wire money to anyone you do not know.
  • On online classifieds websites, it is best to deal with people who are local and can meet you in person at a safe, neutral location.

In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has provided this list of questions to ask yourself. If you can answer 'yes' to one or more of these questions, you could be a victim of fraud or a scam:

  • Have you received a check from an item​ ​you sold on the Internet, such as a car,​ ​boat, jewelry, etc?
  • Is the amount of the check more​ ​than the item’s selling price?
  • ​Was the check received via overnight​ ​delivery service?
  • Is the check in connection to​ ​communication with someone​ ​by e-mail?
  • Is the check drawn on a business​ ​or individual account that is different​ ​from the person buying your item​ ​or product?
  • Have you been informed that you​ ​were the winner of a lottery, such​ ​as Canadian, Australian, El Gordo or​ ​El Mundo, that you did not enter?
  • Have you been instructed to either “wire,” “send” or “ship” money, as​ ​soon as possible, to a large U.S. city​ ​or to another country, such as Canada,​ ​England or Nigeria?
  • Have you been asked to pay money to​ ​receive a deposit from another country,​ ​such as Canada, England or Nigeria?
  • Are you receiving pay or commission​ ​for facilitating money transfers through​ ​your account?
  • Did you respond to an e-mail requesting​ ​you to confirm, update or provide​ ​your account information?

If you answered 'yes' to any of those questions, beware that you may be a victim.

Be sure to keep all documents, statements and communications related to your situation in case the scammer is caught, as a judge may need that information for any restitution.

To report a scam or fraudulent activity, contact your local law enforcement officials and visit this U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes website at www.fincen.gov/help4victims.html.