Better Business Bureau warns of check scam

Imagine that today you go home, feed the dog, turn on the TV and open your mail. A normal everyday routine.

Except today, you got a check in the mail for $5,000. You start reading the letter that came with the check thinking that this must some type of joke. But as you read on, you find that you’ve won a lottery for $2.5 million.

The check is your first payment to offset the cost of the fees or taxes to collect the money. All you have to do is take the check to your bank and deposit it in your account. After that, you wire the fees of $5,000 to the company so that you can collect the rest of your winnings. Where’s the catch? They gave you the money to send back for the fees. Sounds great, right?

Wrong.

How does it work? You deposit the money in your bank account and then send a wire to the company to pay the fees. After a few days, your get a call from your bank telling you that the check that you deposited is not good. It either isn’t a valid account or sometimes it’s a stolen or counterfeit check. Either way, you don’t have the money in your account to cover the wire transfer that you made to pay the fees. To make matters worse, the other checks that you’ve written on your account begin to be returned as well.

Every day the Better Business Bureau of the Southwest receives calls from consumers who have received some version of this scam. People get them through the mail, by telephone and by e-mail. They come from different companies, and most seem to operate out of Canada. The notifications look official: some even have certificates with serial numbers.

But they all have one thing in common ... they want to take your money.