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College Students Victims of Counterfeit Check Scam

September 2, 2014

College students have a reputation for needing money, but to scam others out of cash is probably not what mom and dad had in mind when they told these students to get a job on campus by scamming other college students out of money. Several college students were victims of a large counterfeit check scam, starting with one conmen getting access to one check from one legitimate company.

“The check was not a valid check. It was drawn on us without our knowledge,” said Jim Reynolds, who was one of the victims of the fraud.

Reynolds quickly learned his company, Richey Metals, was caught in a large-scale counterfeit check scam. “We received almost 150 checks drawn on our account,” Reynolds said. “None actually came out of our account.”

Reports from News4Jax say con-artists got a hold of one of Richey Metals’ checks, began producing counterfeit versions and used them in financial transactions all over the country.

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“There were several people doing it,” Reynolds said. “Whether they sold the information on the Internet to somebody else, is what we suspect happened. It wasn’t the same person over and over doing it.” Postal inspectors began tracking the checks and quickly learned the broad scope of the scam. According to U.S. Postal Inspector David Gealey, most of the victims of the check scam were young college students.

“They posted their apartment for sub lease on Craigslist or another marketplace, and they would receive interested parties saying they were an overseas student, and they were interested in the apartment, ‘I’m going to send you a check,’” Gealey said.

Here’s how the scam worked:

Students would receive a check in an Express Mail package and if the check was more than they were told to send the difference back to an address.

After a few days for “processing,” the check would bounce and the students or victims were on the hook for the money.

“If you receive a check for more than the amount of the product …  use common sense and say, ‘This isn’t right,’ and don’t participate in the transaction,” Gealey said.

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There was no physical loss on the Richey Metals company who worked with its bank, however the emotional strain has taken a toll on this company.

“I can tell you it’s a long process,” Reynolds said. “It wears on you, and we’re thankful we didn’t have any issues with losing money. And you gain a new respect for what’s going on out there and the criminals.”

As always, if someone asks you to wire them money it’s very likely that is just bait for a scam. Be alert when conducting business online and unless you know the individual or have done your research don’t transfer any money unless you’re 100% confident in the transaction.

Are you a victim of fraud or money scam? Share your story with us on the Money Credit and You Facebook page!

Source: News 4 Jax