Woman gets taken in check scam

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A viewer is on the hook for thousands of dollars after unknowingly cashing a counterfeit check. She thinks the credit union should share liability and called 12 on Your Side for help.

They won't take the loss, even when it's the credit union that examines a fake check and tells the customer it's okay to cash, when really it's not. I talked with Kathy Jones about her biggest regret, besides owing the Virginia Credit Union thousands.

"I should have just torn the check up and put it in the fire place," said Kathy Jones.

The secret shopper email promises quick profits and alluring work as an undercover customer gathering store information. Kathy Jones answered the scam job email that came to her private AOL account.

"They're perpetrators, scam artist. I call them rapists because that's what it feels like," Kathy said. "I don't have $4850 to repay the bank."

She and the company exchanged emails and soon, a $4,850 check arrived with instructions. Cash the check and keep $170 as income for her first assignment, which was to evaluate the Western Union location, as she wired the remainder of the money to another secret shopper.

"Evaluate it looking at the cleanliness of the store. If the staff is rude to you," she said.

A stranger picked up the money in Philadelphia at a Western Union, then that cashier's check Kathy gave her credit union bounced.

"I asked them specifically, was the check ok to cash and was told yes," Kathy explained. "The teller there took it to a senior teller. I was told by my bank if it's a cashier's check that's guaranteed money."

The Virginia Credit Union tells me customers are made to cover bad deposits. Because scams are prevalent, they post signs warning members.

"I would love for them to help me in some way and they've told me they will not. I trusted them to protect me," she said. "They should have held the check for an extended period of time, long enough to make sure it cleared."

Kathy believes there's no incentive to catch criminals scamming people with fake checks because financial institutions are not held liable and that should change.

"It doesn't matter to the bank whether it's legitimate or not as long as the member is going to be always totally responsible for repaying the bank if it's not," Kathy said.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center points out two red flags, anyone should look for: Kathy's e-mail came from a g-mail account. Most businesses have their own e-mail domain. Legitimate secret shopping programs do not send advance payment and ask you to send back a portion.

If you got scammed or solicited, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Center.

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