According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a Springfield resident received a text message from someone named April Weiss wanting to order $175 in products. Weiss claimed she was opening a modeling agency, and told the resident the payment would come via cashier's check from her 'art director.'
When the resident received the check, two business names were on it: CU Services Center and California Coast Credit Union out of San Diego.
The resident also received another text message from Weiss saying the check was made out in the wrong amount for $2,230.65.
Weiss asked the resident to cash the check and send the remaining balance back to her personal assistant, who she claims is a man named Mark Queen, via MoneyGram.
The number associated with the text messages is (404) 490-2503, an area code out of Atlanta, GA.
BBB conducted a simple search of the phone number and found several similar stories on www.800notes.com dating from June 16, 2014.
BBB offers the following tips on how to avoid being scammed with fake checks:
Talk to a branch manager before depositing a check from a stranger. Sit down with them in person to discuss the situation in detail. Banks know what to look for in a fake check, and they will be able to make the final call on whether or not it should be deposited.
Insist on being paid with a money order or cashier's check drawn from a local bank or a bank that has a local branch. When the money comes in, take it to the bank and verify that it is valid.
Consider asking for a money order from the U.S. Postal Service. You can verify the money order's validity by taking it to a local post office or using the USPS's toll-free automated services.
Avoid situations where you receive a check for more than the amount due and you are instructed to return the difference. A classic scam artist move, the check usually comes back counterfeit and you are left responsible to pay your bank the entire balance of the bounded check after you have already paid the scam artist.
Be cautious about instructions to send the money order overseas. It is extremely difficult to track down people in another country.
Walk away from any deal where you are told to keep quiet about the transaction. This is a common scare tactic among scam artists who are trying to avoid being caught. It is to prevent a bank or others warning you about a counterfeit check.
If you have been a target or victim of this scam you may report it to any of the following:
BBB Serving Southwest Missouri: 417-862-4222
Missouri Attorney General 1-800-392-8222
Federal Trade Commission 1-877-382-4357
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