The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is cautioning residents to be on the lookout for check fraud.
Detectives say the check scam has existed for some time but continues to morph itself. Please be aware of the general concept behind the scam as you may encounter the same scam in a different context.
The scam is initiated when the scammer offers to buy an item or service. Communication between the seller and scammer is seldom verbal and is usually done through e-mail or text message.
The seller receives a check but the scammer claims they accidentally paid more than the agreed-upon amount and asks the seller to deposit the check and return the difference via money order or cash.
The check will clear and the seller will have access to the funds. In a few days, however, the bank will notify the seller that the check was counterfeit and the funds were stolen from an unknowing victim. The seller is then responsible for the amount of money that was withdrawn from the bank. This can affect the seller’s credit and standing with their financial institution if they are not able to make full restitution to the bank.
This scam has been seen with items for sale on websites like Craigslist and services offered like babysitting through www.Care.Com. As scammers seek out new opportunities and new victims, it can easily change to different types of venues.
Always be skeptical of any unverified solicitation and verify anything that may seem too good to be true. Contact the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s “Call Before You Pay” fraud hotline at 239.252-CALL (2255) if you have any questions about, or suspect, fraud.