Police warn against an old crime trying to make a comeback

Police warn against an old crime trying to make a comeback

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - One piece of mail you send every month, could put you at a higher risk of having your identity stolen.

You have to pay bills every month, but experts urge you to stop paying with personal checks.

"They'll see the red flag, run by, open the mailbox, quickly take the items out, close the mailbox, and run off…Now, he has your account information, he knows how much money you have, because you wrote the check for that amount. So he'll take the check and he'll put it in a series of chemicals, which will actually do away with the ballpoint ink that you have written on the check,” said Paul Chappell with Nucor Employees FCU.

Instead of putting your bills in your mailbox, drop them at the post office.

Florence Police are keeping an eye on an old crime trick that is starting to pick up again.

After people get online to seek financial help, in some instances, people are finding fraudulent checks in their mailbox.

Fraudulent checks that thieves want you to cash, so that you keep some of the money and then return a portion to the sender.

The checks and money orders are often partnered with a letter advertising a large amount of cash. Police say that should be your first red flag.

This is something Nucor Employees Federal Credit union has been catching.

"No matter what scam it is, the scammer is going to want you to cash that check, wire them the bulk of the money, and keep a little bit for your trouble," said Chappell.

Florence Police said these fraudulent checks are often found in the mailbox after someone has applied for a loan online, or signed up for a secret shopper network.

"Don't trust these people….over the internet or over the phone, verify… Don't verify by calling the number they gave you. Hang up the phone and then you look up the name of the business and phone number," advised Lt. Tim Compton with the Florence Police Department. 

Police say people get caught up in the appearance of the check because it looks so authentic, but credit union employees are trained to catch those fakes.

"The scammers will make a check that looks just as good as or better than any bank check there is. They'll have holograms, they'll have symbols and the checks look fine," Chappell said.

"You become a suspect once you start cashing these checks and wiring money back," Compton said.

The penalty for this crime could be jail time, but no matter what happens you are required to pay the amount listed on the check you cashed.

"The banks are the victims; financial institutions are the victims," Compton said.

"If you get this type of stuff, tear it up...Rip it up and don't have any contact with individual or company anymore," Compton said.

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