Remember when people use to buy bank account numbers, deposit bad checks into them, and make large withdrawals within 72hrs of the transaction? Same soup, different bowl
I am writing this report with the purpose of advising others about a new scam that, I have just learned, has been going on for quite some time now. I read stories that are similar to mine on the "BBB", Rip-off Report, and many other, online scam sites. To my knowledge, this particular scam dates as far back as 2008.
This is my story...
April 17th 2013, I checked my mailbox. I noticed that I had received an "Acceptance Letter" from a company called "K&T MART CO.". Enclosed with this letter was a check, made out to me, in the amount of $1,991.20.
A few months back, I had begun an online search for employment, and I came across an opportunity to become a mystery shopper. Now, in my defense, it's merely every woman's dream to get paid for shopping, so naturally, I jumped at the chance. Next thing I know, I'm skimming through a letter, which states...
"This is to inform you that based on the previous survey by our affiliate Consumer Survey Specialists you indicated your interests in an additional income on a part time basses, you are here by selected to participate in a paid Mystery Shoppers program as one of the research personnel selected under this program."
The letter provided a "USER ID#, PASSWORD and WEB ADDRESS, which I was, instructed by the letter, to use as an aid to "activate" the enclosed check.
The letter proceeded with its instructions
After activation, deposit check into your regular bank account
When funds cleared and available, deduct your stipulated participation salary indicated... which was $350.00 (Pay for first week)
Withdraw balance and get started immediately with assigned task
The letter continued to explain that Survey Assignment #1 needed to be completed within 24hrs of the check clearing, and Survey Assignment #2 needed to be completed by shopping at one of the listed stores (Wal-Mart, Sears, Costco, Best Buy or Home Depot).
Using the web address that was provided in the letter, I was instructed to go online and generate the assignments only once the withdrawn cash was ready in hand. After which, I would report my Evaluations to the company, and as a result, I would be allowed to keep the purchased items, as a bonus, along with the $350.00 (Pay for first week).
According to the acceptance letter, all Job Assignments and Evaluation/Reports were available to me online, and none of my personal information was needed for me to become a Mystery Shopper. This appealed to me, as I was presently in search of Part-Time employment; however, when I looked up the indicated web address, my browser produced an error message, which stated, WEB PAGE NOT FOUND.
This elicited RED FLAG #1
Now, you might be thinking This elicited RED FLAG #1???!!!
I know I'm kicking myself and shaking my head as I write this report... If I were reading this story, I would be thinking the same thing, but when youre actually living within the moment, as it is happening, the reality of things tend to be a little bit foggy.
I needed to activate my check, so I was eager to locate this seemingly un-locatable web page. I ran a GOOGLE search and found K&T MART COMPANY, but it was listed under a different web address. Needless to say, this elicited RED FLAG #2; however, like most red-blooded Americans, I ignored my better judgment, activated the check, ran to CHASE BANK, and I deposited the check into my account, as I was instructed.
To be honest, I was blinded by my excitement. On April 17th, the first things I noticed were the amount of the check, and my acceptance into, The Mystery Shoppers Program. My enthusiasm led me to believe that this was really happening. Things didn't begin to register, logically, until the 18th of April 2013. By then, the check had already been deposited.
On the 18th of April 2013, as logic began to matriculate, I meticulously reread my Acceptance Letter; consequently, 37 RED FLAGS arose after I discovered 37 grammatical and spelling errors. I then noticed that the address window, of the letters envelope, had no return address on the corresponding side. At this point, I researched the nonexistent web address. I also tried to contact K&T MARTS "ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE", which listed a disconnected phone number.
After each failed attempt, I knew that I had become the victim of counterfeit check fraud.
Imagine my dismay, as I went into a state of panic, ... Never, in my life, have I felt so uniformed, invaded, and unprotected... I didnt know what to do, but I did know that I would have to compose myself, think logically, and do the right thing. I was afraid that my bank would assume that I was intentionally depositing fraudulent checks, so I immediately went to my closest CHASE BANK branch, spoke with a personal banker, and I informed him that the previously deposited check was suspicious of being counterfeit.
I told CHASE BANK my story, and they assisted me in correcting my mistake before it was too late.
Because I never withdrew the deposited funds, the bank was able to return the fraudulent check. As a result, they insured my account with security and peace of mind; however, not everyone is so lucky. Some people end up in thousands of dollars worth of debt. They also face accusations of money laundering, which leads to time served, in prison, for withdrawing the deposited funds of counterfeit checks, and electronically transferring the money to different countries, as instructed.
If you, or a loved one, should find yourself in this, or similar situations, please discuss this matter with your bank, contact your local Law Enforcement (Fraud Department) Agency, and remember
Better judgments are only a reflection away from better results.