VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Any time someone overpays you with a check for a prize you’ve “won,” or an item you’re selling, or a “job” they’re offering — turn and run.
This scam has been around for years in various forms.
For Kristin Escolastico, it was a lucrative offer that popped up on her phone, to have her car wrapped and advertise a soft drink. The work sounded easy, and the money sounded good, $500 a week for several weeks.
But instead of just $500, she received by express mail a check for $2,500. The check had the name of a real bank, drawn on the account of a real company. Escolastico received instructions by text and email to keep $500 for herself, and wire the extra $2,000 “for the installer.”
The scammers wanted her to wire that $2,000 to the phony installer, in advance of any supposed wrapping of her car with the advertisement. That’s when Escolastico made a smart decision when she easily could have made a costly one.
“I called the bank and verified it was not valid. They said don’t deposit that check.”
After doing some research, here’s what Escolastico says would have happened if she had fallen for the scam.
“A couple of days later that check would have bounced, and I would have been in the hole for $2500.”
Escolastico, her husband and her five kids can’t afford that kind of loss.
“That’s two months’ mortgage and utility payments, and food out of my kids’ mouths.”
Here’s how it would have worked. The scammers use the name of a legitimate company and a real bank without their permission. Once you deposit the check, a bank can take up to several days to determine it’s bogus.
Meanwhile, you’ve wired money to one of the scammers, and that transaction cannot be reversed.
Escolastico reported her experience with a complaint to the FBI.