ON YOUR SIDE ALERT: FedEx Packages with fake checks

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - FedEx and Priority Mail packages stuffed with fraudulent checks are popping in local mailboxes. The catch: there are no instructions, just a check for thousands of dollars.

Robie Thacker, a college student, was surprised when she got a check for over $3,000 in the mail.

"It was just a random check and the only reason I was concerned about it is because I have been watching the news," Thacker said. Since there was no letter, and just a FedEx envelope with the check, she knew something wasn't quite right.

She called her bank, police and then 12 On Your Side. "That is more than tuition and is a scary thought to think that people might actually think it is free money and do it but is scared me a lot," she said.

Thacker wasn't the only one worried about that blank check. Patricia Phillips received a similar package, with the same situation; no note, just a check. "Of course I got excited, you know, that much in a check can make the difference in your bills being paid and not being paid," Phillips says. It was enticing, but she knew not to cash it.

Postal Inspector Michael Romano has seen all sorts of check scams come through the mail. He had an explanation for the recent FedEx check mailings.

"There are two things that's happening out there. One, ultimately a person may have registered online for a sweepstakes or a work at home type offer and they have given their personal information. The other thing is sometimes scammers and people who don't realize they are part of the scam forget to stuff the envelopes," Romano explained.

The inspector says never try to cash the checks. You will be responsible for the funds. Next, report it to the U-S- Postal Inspection Service Office. On its website, you can file a complaint, find helpful resources and take a look at the common tricks crooks are using.

Days later, Thacker solved her mystery envelope. Turns out, a job offer online was not legit, emails and text messages revealed the truth. As for Phillips, she's still not sure why she got the check, but wants others to be on alert.

If you're wondering about the postage paid to send the fraudulent checks, the inspector has an answer for that too. "We are finding that the postage, whether it is U.S. Mail, FedEx or UPS, is actually either fraudulent or paid for on someone else's credit card," Romano says. A reminder that a check in the mail is not always good news.

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