The FBI is warning people about a new scam in which people who have either posted their resume on line looking for work or responded to an on line advertisements for employment are contacted by scammers claiming to be a research company seeking to hire the unwary victim to complete a survey on wire transfer services provided by various wire transfer companies, allegedly in order to evaluate the efficiency of these money transfer services. Upon agreeing to do the work, the victims are sent a certified check by mail which they are instructed to deposit into their own checking account. They are further instructed to wire a portion of the funds back to the company and keep the balance as their fee within twenty-four hours or they will be reported to the FBI and face a penalty of up to twenty-five years in jail. It is only after the victim has forwarded money from his or her checking account that he or she learns that the original “certified check” was counterfeit and worthless, but the funds that they wired to the scammer is gone forever from their checking account. Most victims have lost at least $2,500 as a result of this scam. To make things worse, the counterfeit checks look real and, according to federal banking regulations, banks will give provisional credit to the counterfeit check within five days of its deposit so the unwary victim may believe that the check has actually cleared while the truth is that the credit to his or her account will later be reversed when the check fails to clear and the victim, who thought the money to cover the funds he or she wired to the scammer was in his or her account, will learn that the check he or she received was a worthless counterfeit.
Always be wary of any business transaction that asks you to wire money. Once you have wired money it is gone. If you receive a purported certified check, contact the bank issuing the check to confirm that the check is legitimate and that there are sufficient funds in the account. Finally, wait for the check to fully clear before doing anything with the money contained in a certified check.