The Ocean City Police Department is advising citizens to be aware of a potential employment scam involving the use of the popular internet site “craigslist.com”. The scam is similar to ones involving other popular retail posting sites such as “autotrader.com” and “ebay.com”.
This particular scam involves a victim attempting to gain employment for a service, in one case it was to provide cleaning service for a person who is living out of the country and owns property in Ocean City. All employment negotiations and correspondence were done through email.
The scam works as follows; the victim is offered employment and mailed a counterfeit “check” to cover the costs of the service provided. In most cases the check is either drawn on an obscure corporate business account from what appears to be a legitimate bank or is a cashier’s check from a well known national bank. The victim is paid more money than was negotiated and asked to quickly deposit the “check” into the victims account. Once the “check” is deposited into the victims account, the victim is asked to withdraw a portion of the money, and send it via “Western Union” to an additional location, usually as part of way for the alleged “employer” to pay for additional services or transportation fees as means to avoid overseas fees and or taxes.
By the time the victim transfers actual funds the local bank where the original check was deposited notifies the victim that the check they deposited is fraudulent and that the money they withdrew and sent using “Western Union” is gone. The result is the victim is responsible for the overdraft on the account even though the check is a fake and the victim is out the money.
What transpires is a crime of fraud and theft, however while it will be investigated it is very difficult to catch the perpetrators and unlikely the victims money will be recovered. In this case, an alert bank official immediately suspected the check was a fake, and the victim was not scammed.
The OCPD recommends that persons do not engage in internet based employment activities where the employer is not well known to the employee. If you receive any money in the form of corporate or bank checks, you should allow them to fully clear your banks authentication and verification processes, this typically takes 7 business days. Do not send any money using wire transfer services as this is the tell-tale sign of a counterfeit check scam.
If you have been the victim of a scam please contact the police. If you have been solicited for this type of scam, save your correspondence and contact your local police department. The OCPD advises citizens to never provide your personal banking account information and/or personal identification information including birthday, social security number to anyone over the internet.