July 24, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
73°F

Police warns locals of check cash scams

MEDINA — Area police warn about several scams involving fraudulent checks and solicitors that have become prevalent.

Officer Josh Grusendorf said at least two residents recently reported receiving the check scam in the mail.

One scam involves a letter claiming the recipient is the winner of $125,000 in lottery funds, Grusendorf said. The letter contains instructions to cash the enclosed check and send a portion of the funds to an address via Western Union.

“They go to the bank, cash the check … two weeks later when the check is no good, it bounces and the bank tells them they’re responsible for the money … and they’re out the $2,000,” Grusendorf said.

He said the checks are from legitimate companies but often consist of stolen or old account numbers. The phone numbers in the letter also work, but the number usually goes to an untraceable TracFone used by the scam artist to convince victims to send the money.

Another scam reported to the Police Department involves a letter soliciting residents to become a mystery shopper, Grusendorf said. It also involves a check from a legitimate company that the letter asks the recipient to cash and send through Western Union. Again, the check inevitably bounces.

“Usually these businesses are legitimate businesses. Usually what happens is the account numbers are stolen somehow and these people print out checks that look real,” Grusendorf said.

A third scam, he said, involves solicitors pretending to be from some kind of inspection agency. While one scammer performs the “inspection” at a residence, he said another person enters the home and takes items.

“If something sounds too good to be true, it generally is too good to be true,” Grusendorf cautioned.

He encouraged residents to call the Medina Police Department at (330) 725-7777 if they are suspicious of offers they have received in the mail. He also advised those with elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives to warn them about the scams.

“We ask that they contact us before sending money anywhere,” Grusendorf said. “They’re very genuine-looking checks.”

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.