Fake check scam targets college students

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Credit: FTC

WASHINGTON (WWLP) – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning college students about a fake check scam.

A fake check scam is when someone sends you a check and asks you to deposit it, then send them some money back. A while later, the bank realizes the check was fake and deducts the original check amount from your account. So, if you deposited a $1,000 check, they’ll take that back. But if you sent $400 to someone else, you’re now out $400 of your own money.

This most recent check scam is targeting college students. Someone posing as a professor sends you an email. It uses a college domain name and a format like your.name@collegename.edu. The scammer offers you a part-time job, such as personal assistant or dog walker. Then, the scammer sends you a check, asks you to deposit it and send some of the money to someone else, and keep the rest as payment. But the check is fake and you’re out the money you sent or spent. It can take weeks for banks to process and uncover this scam.

The bottom line is never send money back to someone who sends you a check. If someone sends you a check and tells you to send money back by wire transfer or gift card, it’s a scam. Some examples:

  1. You’re notified you’ve won a prize and are told to send back payment for taxes and fees.
  2. You get paid as a “secret shopper” and are told to send back money and keep a percentage.
  3. You sold an item online and the buyer overpays and wants you to send them the overage.

You can report this type of scam or other consumer fraud to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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