As more Calgarians have reported being victimized by cheque cashing scams, the Calgary Police Service is reminding people to be cautious if asked to cash cheques and wire the money.
There have been at least four recent reports of “mystery shopper” scams, which highlight the need for Calgarians to be wary of such offers.
In each of these cases, the unrelated victims responded to an online “mystery shopper” job ad and were immediately hired.
Each received a cheque for between $1,000 and $2,000 and were asked to wire the majority of the funds to other individuals, in order to evaluate the money transfer service. In some cases, they were asked to spend a small portion at retail stores.
The victims all received more cheques and assignments, but were soon informed by their banks that they were counterfeit.
Investigators believe there have been other victims of this, or similar “work at home” scams who may not have reported it to police.
Police continue investigate these incidents, however it is usually very difficult to track down the offenders. In most cases, the money is not recovered.
While these offenders can be very convincing, Calgarians are reminded that a legitimate individual or organization will have no need to offer money to simply cash a cheque for them, as they should be able to do it themselves.
Anyone who has been victimized by such a scam should contact police.
Because it may take time for a cheque to clear, a victim of a mystery shopper scam may spend a substantial amount of money before they are informed of the problem by their bank.
Trust your instincts. If something seems to be too good to be true, it likely is.
Other general Internet safety tips include:
– Be cautious clicking on links in unsolicited emails.
– Minimize the amount of personal information in your signature line when communicating with unknown entities.
– Never give out your user name or password.
– Keep anti-virus and firewall software current.