ON YOUR SIDE: How to recognize check scams

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Fake check scammers are trolling for people through the U.S. mail - looking to take your hard earned money. Do what a Henrico man did and learn to recognize a scam.

Know the warning signs that people desperate for money convince themselves to overlook. If out of the blue, a check comes in the mail, that's a red flag.

The check looks real and it's a nice amount, almost two thousand dollars, supposedly from the world's largest retailer, Walmart. It even has Walmart's correct address.

Jason Howell got it with a letter offering him work as a paid shopper.

"I'd been doing some surveys online and I thought maybe that's how I got in the system but, I didn't understand why it would be coming from Spain when the company is in Arkansas," he said.

A closer look and you see a second red flag.

"On the check it says Wachovia," Jason showed us. "I may still be using my Wachovia checks but by now, a company like Walmart should have made the switch to Wells Fargo."

The letter gives a website: walmatbiz.com. Notice the spelling? Jason is instructed to activate the check there, then deposit the check in his bank account, deduct his pay and withdraw the balance. So what do you do with the balance?

I logged on using the I.D. codes in the letter giving 'my' NBC12 work number and work email. I followed the prompts and got instructions to keep $350.00...salary for the first job assignment which was to evaluate customer service at Western Union while I wired them $1,040.00.

I called the number in the letter and - it's not Walmart. I got a recording instructing me to go back online.

I called Walmart Corporate and to get its take on a process using its name.

"We're very unhappy to learn there is a scam intending to defraud our customers...Walmart doesn't participate in secret shopper promotions and has no affiliation with them," wrote Kayla Whaling, Walmart Spokeswoman.

"If it's too good to be true...but, this one we really wanted it to be true. We hoped it to be true because I'm in college right now. I'm having to pay my way through and I could have used the money," Jason said.

I called the number in the letter numerous times but didn't get to talk with anyone. They have my email from the forms I filled out. Had Jason taken the bait, he would owe his bank money. He says he learned of these type offers, through our previous 12 On Your Side reports.

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