Two Virgin Islands residents have fallen prey to a fraudulent-check cashing scam that is widespread on the Internet and even in local media, according to detectives in the V.I. Police Insular Investigation bureau.
The first victim was a 32-year-old woman who told police that, in July, she sent her resume to Jobs.com and was contacted for a job as a personal assistant. The victim was told by her employer that she would receive a $2,700 check in the mail and deposit it into her account. She was instructed to wire transfer $2,000 to Maryland for a children’s charity. The next week the victim was sent another check in the same amount, but when she presented that check to the bank she was told that the previous check did not clear and the account number of the check did not exist.
The victim is left holding the bag in this situation. Since she endorsed the check, she may be legally responsible for the check, detectives said.
In the second case, the victim was more cautious or perhaps more suspicious. The 56-year-old man responded to an advertisement in the Virgin Islands Daily News to earn $300 dollars a week working one hour a day. When he applied he was accepted to be a check casher. The victim told police he was sent three traveler’s checks in the mail with instructions to cash the checks, retain 10 percent and send the remainder to an address in China.
The victim was suspicious and took the checks to his bank to check their authenticity. Bank employees told him the traveler’s checks were counterfeit and the victim took the evidence to the police station.
The check cashing scam comes in various forms, detectives said, but they are all designed to make the victim believe what the scammers are saying. The checks look real but they are fake. Detectives warned residents to be wary of anyone who offers a check and then asks you to return a portion of the funds to them. If this happens to you, don’t deposit the check, report it immediately to the nearest police station, police said.
The detectives warned the public not to get burned and to remember what they called the first rule of avoiding scams: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”