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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Target of con artists
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- Anyone can become the target of con artists, even when they are using old scams to wrangle new victims.
If you think you'll never be the target of a con artist, think again. Here's a story showing how no one is out of the reach of criminals looking to make an easy fortune.
Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff said, "When the detectives looked at it they immediately said they were bogus checks."
Scott Israel had asked the officers to inspect two checks he received in the mail. He knows a lot of people who work in law enforcement because he's the sheriff of Broward County, Florida.
Israel said, "I knew right away, these companies didn't owe me money. I guess, you're kind of offended even as the sheriff to find out even these crooks say I'm not impervious to the these scams."
The con men obviously chose the wrong target. And that's the point. All of us are vulnerable to scams.
Blanca Alvarez, a US Postal Inspector, said, "There is no legitimate reason for somebody to send you a check or money order in the mail and ask you to send money back to them."
There may be no reason but this is one typical way con-artists are luring victims into several schemes including the so-called "Mystery Shopper" scam.
Alvarez continues, "They ask you to take a check or money order they send you and deposit it into your own bank account."
Then, purchase an item, complete the mystery shopper questionnaire about the experience, and wire back the remaining money from the original check.
"A few weeks later you find out that they check or money order you deposited to your account was counterfeit," Alvarez said.
So, victims are on the hook for the entire amount lost. An important reminder for consumers, "Never wire money to someone you don't know because once you wire the money, it's gone and it's almost impossible to get back."
Scott Israel tells us, "If these individuals are going to send a check or try to commit a scam and the victim is going to be the sheriff of Broward County - they will do it to anybody."
Postal Inspectors say checks as well as counterfeit money orders are often sent through the mail so be on the lookout for both.
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