Lottery/ International Scams/Sweepstakes
You receive a letter in the mail informing you that you have won an international lottery/sweepstakes, although you have never entered the lottery/sweepstakes. An official looking check is included with the letter, and you are instructed to use the check to pay for "fees" or "taxes" on your winnings. You deposit the check in your account and then wire money from the deposited item to the fraudster. The check you deposited is returned unpaid as a counterfeit item.
You receive a letter in the mail informing you of an opportunity to become a secret shopper to measure the effectiveness of Wal-Mart money orders. You receive a check in the mail and are instructed to deposit the check into your account, then take the cash and purchase the money orders. You are instructed to send the money orders and an "evaluation" back to the fraudster. The check you deposited into your account is returned unpaid as a counterfeit item.
Work From Home
You post your resume on the Internet and receive a response from a (foreign) company who wants to hire you to "process" checks for them. You are told you can work from home as long as you have email access. You will receive checks from the company's customers, and you are to deposit the checks into your account. You are instructed to wire funds from the deposited checks to the company, keeping 10% of the deposited funds as your "salary." The checks you deposit are returned unpaid.
Fraudsters using dating scams prey on vulnerable people by offering companionship and/or support. Fraudsters will create false personal profiles, sometimes using pictures of models or celebrities to entice their victims, and will claim that they are seeking romance, are in need of help, or want to help others in need. After building a relationship, either online, by telephone or mail, the fraudster will tell the victim they have money orders or other official financial instruments that they cannot cash (usually because they are in another country). They ask if the victim will help them by cashing the checks then wiring the money back. The fraudster makes the request sound desperate, because they want to come visit the victim. The items sent to the victim are counterfeit.
The fraudster contacts you after you post something for sale over the Internet via an online auction or other sale site. The fraudster quickly agrees to your asking price or even offers to buy your item for an amount greater than the selling price. The buyer sends you an official check that appears to be drawn on a legitimate financial institution that is for more than the agreed upon price, then asks you to wire him back the overpayment. The official check is counterfeit, and you are left with the loss of funds you wired out of your account and possibly the item you were attempting to sell (if you had shipped it).