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Attorney general warns of fake check scams

August 22, 2018

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a warning about a scam in which consumers receive fake checks in the mail and are later required to repay the bank once the check bounces.

According to a press release, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received recent reports of consumers getting letters in the mail or emails from scammers claiming to represent various sweepstakes, shopping programs or employers.

“It is of utmost importance that consumers do not accept checks from unknown sources in order to protect their finances,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Consumers should consult with their bank if they are unsure if a check is legitimate before depositing.”

These letters include a check, which the consumer then deposits at the bank. The scammers request that the targeted individuals return a portion of the check via money orders or cash through the mail. They claim that these reimbursed funds are to cover taxes and other necessary fees.

However, once the bank discovers the check is fraudulent, the victimized consumer is responsible for repaying the withdrawn amount. In some cases it can take weeks for counterfeit checks to be discovered.

Multiple consumers in Lewis County have reported receiving letters with fraudulent checks. Earlier this month, one individual fell victim to this scam by depositing several fraudulent checks into their account.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, consumers should:

- Throw away any offer asking for payment for a prize or gift.

- If the check is from an unfamiliar bank, get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or a trusted internet site, not from the check or the person sending the check, before calling to verify the check’s validity.

- Never wire money to strangers.

- If a deposit occurs, know that you are responsible for funds withdrawn against the check.

Anyone with questions or believing they are a victim of a fake check scam can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

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