The Ocean City Police Department is advising citizens to be aware of a potential employment scam.  This particular scam involves a victim attempting to gain employment, which in the most recent case was for a cleaning service in which 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 victim’s account.  Once the “check” is deposited into the victim’s 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 the 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 victim’s money will be recovered.  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 bank’s authentication and verification processes; this typically takes seven 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.