Check fraud finds area victim
By LPR Staff
When a check for nearly $3,000 arrived in the mail early this week, Lockhart resident Annette Vance knew it was too good to be true.
“As soon as I opened [the check], I knew it was a fraud,” Vance said. “And I took it straight to the District Attorney”s office. I didn”t even call the number it said to.”
o Vance, who received the check made out to her husband from “Federal Financial Company,” Caldwell County District Attorney Trey Hicks told her she was likely right, and the check was probably part of a fraud scheme.
The check was accompanied by a letter from “Ideal Customer Services Survey, Inc.,” and offered Vance”s husband the opportunity to become a secret shopper for companies such as Wal Mart, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and GAP.
“After they “activate” your check and you deposit it, they probably want you to send them money for the classes or fees,” Vance, who reported the check to two local banks said. “And by the time their check bounces, they have already got your money.”
She said Hicks also suggested the telephone number the letter instructed her to call might also be a “pay-by-the-minute” service that will cost the victim even more.
Vance said she figured the check was a fraud when she first saw it. The package came to her home through the mail, but without a return address and bearing a Canadian postmark.
“I don”t have the Internet at home, so this isn”t something we could have solicited through one of those online offers,” she said. “What I”d really like to know is who sold our name and address to such a devious organization.”
Though most of the companies listed on the “secret shopper” letter do not have advisories on their websites regarding this fraud, it is possible the corporate offices do not know their logos and business names are being used in this kind of scheme, Vance said Hicks told her.
Annette Vance is among the lucky. Thousands of well-intentioned victims are targeted through “free-money” schemes each year, and local banks are always on the lookout for fraudulent checks. However, criminals such as those that targeted Vance and her husband often change their game, altering company names, check appearances and offers as they scam more and more Americans out of their hard-earned money.
Anyone receiving a “money-for-nothing” offer such as Vance did is urged not to try to deposit the check, but to contact local authorities and their bank as soon as possible.
The Lockhart Police Department can be reached at their non-emergency number, (512) 398-4401, or a report can be made to the Caldwell County Sheriff”s Office at (512) 398-6777.