Monday, May 20, 2013
Watchdog: Fake Checks Scam
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) - Keith Seymour still can't believe he fell for it. He is a paralegal, a journalist, and a media consultant. He's even a community advocate. In fact, he donates his time to his church in an effort to fight this sort of thing. Now he's learning to practice what he preaches, and he'll tell you he's fuming.
Seymour says, "I'm extremely 'p-oed.' I'm embarrassed, of course i'm embarrassed. I have a college education. I have a journalism degree, a minor in political science, a paralegal certification. I did the research - I thought - felt I did what I had to do, and I was still scammed."
Keith admits the lure was convincing. He would work as a middle man of sorts for the company "Hood Fabrics" - a business, through research, he proved to be legitimate. He would receive and forward money between client and company and receive a ten percent kickback for each transaction, but after the first deposit into his account, the red flags began to fly.
Seymour says, "The bank manager at the Bank of America knows me and said 'Keith, something's up with this because you're out $1700, and almost $1800 because the money order bounced.'"
Keith says it turns out Hood Fabrics is a viable company but not associated with this work at home program. He knew he had been scammed.
Carri Lybarker with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says, "Usually the scammer will ask the consumer to wire the money cause it's almost a sure way that the consumer will never be able to stop that transaction as soon as it's wired, it's gone, and then a few days later the bank will probably contact the consumer saying that it was a scam and the consumer is on the hook for paying that money."
Keith has learned his lesson, but it was an expensive one. He's now in the hole about $2000, and he had to tap into his 401(k) to pay off the check that bounced, and that means penalties, but pride aside, he knows it was an important decision to come forward.
"Family members, friends, they're going to rib you about it, but I thought about it, and I thought I'm willing to go through all of that if it encourages someone else to come forward, because the more people that come forward the easier, it's going to be to stop these people."
How can you avoid becoming a victim of fake checks? First, contact the State Department of Consumer Affairs before you agree to cash a check. Make sure the business is legitimate, and the person you're dealing with is not infamous with authorities. Also, pay attention. For example, if you're receiving a check for winning a lottery or sweepstakes you don't remember entering, there's a good chance it's a scam.
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