Congratulations you just won some money! The letter says so. And the check is included. All you have to do to claim your money is deposit the check and wire the money to the sender to pay the taxes and fees. There's just one catch: this is a scam.
In many cases, the name of a real company will appear on the check, along with real account and routing numbers. A common version of this scam includes instructions to deposit the check in your bank account and then immediately transfer some of the money to someone else. Later, your bank will let you know that the check was counterfeit and that you are now responsible for the amount withdrawn.
Mystery shopper scam.
People are lured in by ads posted for mystery shoppers on sites like Craigslist. When you respond to the ads, they lead you to believe that you have been hired as a mystery shopper to evaluate the services of a money transfer company. You are then sent a check that appears to be from a legitimate company and instructed to deposit the checks in your bank accounts, then withdraw most of the money and wire it to someone else. You are told to keep a few hundred dollars as payment. Once the checks are discovered to be fake, the bank will reverse the deposit, and you are left responsible for the funds withdrawn.
Unexpected check scam.
A check may arrive with no instructions or additional information. After you deposit it into your account, it is discovered to be fraudulent. Most financial institutions will require you to return any amounts disbursed if the check bounces, plus pay additional fees.
How to protect yourself
Be wary. Talk to someone you trust and contact your bank before you act.
Don't "keep the change." Never take a check for more than your selling price and never send money back to someone who sent you a check.
Don't cash the "unexpected" check.
Verify the check by calling the company directly. Call from a number you find from a reliable source.
Fake check scams typically have many red flags or warning signs, such as: o Typos o Mismatched names
o Pressure to act quickly
It's important to note just because funds are made available from a check you've deposited, doesn't mean the check is good. It's best not to rely on funds from a check unless you know and trust the person you're dealing with or until the bank confirms that the check has cleared.
For more information on how to protect yourself, visit out Security Center.