An Internet fraud scheme could result in more than just the loss of money for victims. It also could lead to a not-so-pleasant chat with bank and law enforcement officials for passing counterfeit postal money orders, postal inspectors say.
According to a statement yesterday by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the scam begins when someone needing help to cash phony postal money orders contacts a victim by e-mail, through an Internet chat room or online auction site. Once the bogus money orders are cashed, the victim returns the funds via wire transfer, often unaware they have assisted in a federal crime.
Victims are told they can keep some of the money as a gift or payment for their help, officials said. Unsuspecting victims provide their home mailing address to the scam artist and are told they will receive a check or postal money order that they should deposit into their bank account.
“Scams promising quick and easy money are cast by fraudsters,” chief postal inspector Lee Heath said. “These scam artists can easily connect to a sea of strangers through the Internet and dangle promising treats, hoping someone will bite. Don't take the bait.”
Heath said such scams can be coordinated from anywhere in the world, but recently many have been conducted from Nigeria.