RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We've warned you about those lottery scams and mystery shopping offers that flood mail boxes. But who's fighting the problem? We investigated and ended up at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Postal Inspector, Michael Romano says it's a constant battle fighting postal fraud. "We are receiving numerous complaints on a daily basis," he says.
Romano says usually it's the same scam with a bit of a twist. If you happen to fall for one, it could be a nightmare. "You've got a couple of risk. You've got the I.D. theft if you think you are working from home and you give up your social security number and everything else. The sky is the limit in what the scammers can do in the way of ruining your credit an everything else," Romano explains.
The most common scams include the mystery shopping job offer, the foreign lottery scam, fraudulent money orders and the overpayment schemes. We wanted to know why these scams are a constant problem. "First of all, it is very easy to do. If you can get a list of someone's email account, that is really what is running around in the other countries. The scammers are actually buying lists, whether it is your address or email lists, they have the information to make the initial contact," he says.
One thing that may surprise you, most of the postal schemes don't originate in the mail. Romano says they start from a computer and then end up in your mailbox. "The counterfeiters have gotten very good at the schemes. One of the main things you will see is coming in from another country," he explains. Inspector Romano says his job is prevention but admits -- while they intercept millions of these scams before they make it to consumers -- they can't catch everything. You have to educate yourself -- a great place to read up on the latest scams and to report a problem is the united states Postal Inspection Service website.
"If you've got that feeling that it doesn't look right and you don't know the person who sent it to you, we strongly encourage you to report that and get those documents to us" Romano warns. A couple of things to watch out for, letters post marked from overseas, money orders for over 1,000 bucks or close to it, the limit is one-thousand.
Also, be on the lookout for grammatical errors, and those surprise checks in the mail. "No one you do not know is going to miraculously send you money orders, cashiers checks or anything like that because you've won a prize or something along those lines," Romano says. Another piece of advice, don't play detective and string the crooks along, it may work against you. "Whether you realize it or not, the more you engage the scammer, the more information they may be getting about you," Romano says.
When in doubt about that next piece of mail -- it may be worth a trip by your post office to make sure it's legit. To report postal fraud, cal the U.S. Postal Inspections Service at 877-876-2455.