RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A renewed warning tonight from the state office of consumer affairs.
Fake check scams are on the rise, and millions of Americans are being swindled out of money they don't have to give away.
There is no legitimate reason why anyone you do not know would send you a check or money order, ask you to cash it and then wire a portion of the money back to them.
In the last year, the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs received about 200 complaints about this scam. The Consumer Federation of America says at least 1.3 million people have actually been victimized, with an average loss of up to $4,000.
A recent survey showed that the most common fake check scams involve sweepstakes and lotteries, grants and work-at-home opportunities.
Here is how you get tricked:
Method one: You are notified that you have won a substantial sum in a foreign sweepstakes. Or have been awarded a grant. Officials send you a check or money order as an advance, but you have to send back part of the money to pay taxes and fees.
Method two: you're offered a job by a foreign company which claims it is unable to receive payments from customers. Your job is to receive the payments, deposit them and then wire the funds back to your company. You receive a percentage of the payments processed.
Third trick: you're hired as a secret shopper to evaluate a money transfer service. You're given a check, told to deposit it in your bank account, and then to withdraw the amount in cash.
Next, you are instructed to take the money to the transfer service that you are evaluating and send the money to someone in Canada. Then you are to write up your evaluation.
In every case, you end up losing your own money. Just ignore these offers. You can learn more about check scams by going to fakechecks.org.