Tuesday, June 18 2013, 10:14 AM MDT
USPS Money Orders a Tool for Scammers
By Matt Gephardt and Michelle Poe
(KUTV) Amy Terry says she was looking for a way to earn a little extra cash.
“I’ve had many years working in the retail industry so I thought I could be a mystery shopper,” she said.
Sure enough, when Amy searched online classifieds there are many listed opportunities to be a mystery shopper. Amy applied and was hired. She received a packet with a U.S. Postal Service money order for $975 with instructions to deposit the check in her own bank account, and then use the money to test the services of Western Union. She was told to wire that money away and report back on what her customer service at the money wiring company was like.
“[The check] looked real because it had water marks and all that,” Amy said. But she didn’t deposit it. “I was really leery of it.”
2News took the money order to the post office and postal inspector Steve Dansen. Dansen says Amy was right to be suspicious; the money order is a counterfeit.
The differences between the fake and a real money order are subtle. Both have a watermark, official typing and a multi-colored thread running through the bill. And Dansen says, fakes like this are big business for crooks. The USPS sees thousands of the bogus checks every year cashed by unsuspecting consumers.
Amy says she is glad she didn’t cash the check and is now hoping her story will help keep others from being ripped off.
Had Amy tried to cash the fake money order, it would have eventually bounced and she would have been out all the money she had wired away.
The postal service says they do look into these types of scams and in the past they have made arrests but usually the scammer gets away with it because they are outside the United States.
Western Union says that you should never ever send money to anyone that you do not know personally. Money that is sent via Western Union can be claimed at any Western Union store and the crook can disappear without a trace.
The US Postal Service does not allow money orders to exceed $1000. To verify a postal money order, the USPS has set up a hotline: (866) 459-7822.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)