Late last month, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies were notified of a fraud incident involving a resident of Paulden, Arizona. The victim told deputies that after offering an item of furniture for sale on Craigslist, a buyer contacted her by email and agreed to the purchase price. Within days, she received a check (see copy below) from the buyer in an amount far exceeding the agreed cost. The buyer asked the seller to deposit the check, keep the monies for the item sold, and mail the balance back to the buyer. The seller was also permitted to keep an extra $100.00 for handling the check as instructed.
The seller smartly realized the check was a fake and contacted YCSO. In reference to this check, both the printed company and banking information are legitimate. A simple phone call to the listed bank confirmed the check was fraudulent. Additionally, wording at the top of the check indicates "security features in the paper," and close inspection of the check reveals those features are not present. The intent of the "buyer" is to have this seller/victim deposit the check and refund excess monies before the victim's bank returns the check as a fake.
This scam is similar to recent lottery scams in which the recipient is notified of an award by mail and a check is enclosed to cover the cost of processing their winnings. The "winner" is asked to deposit the check, which is fraudulent, and wire the fee monies to the so-called lottery organization before receiving the prize. Most of these scams involve foreign lotteries.
The Federal Trade Commission website has extensive information regarding these check scams. Please see http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre40.shtm for details and prevention ideas.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at (928) 771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov