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Home health aide given $2,950 in check overpayment scam: Money Matters

February 7, 2018 GMT

Home health aide given $2,950 in check overpayment scam: Money Matters

Q: I recently received a check for a home health care job I was hired for. It was for a deaf man and his service dog moving into my area who needed assistance. I connected with him through care.com.

Well, he sent me a check for my first week’s pay, which was $350 per week. But the check he sent was for $2,950! You guessed it -- the other money was supposed to be for DOG SUPPLIES. He expected me to deposit this check and then go buy $2,600 worth of dog supplies for him. I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken long for the check to come back as fraudulent, after I’d bought the items for his dog.

I think it’s horrible for someone to prey on people who work helping others. I’ve got his phone number and three different names. I want to turn him in, or turn over whoever is behind this. He gave me a legitimate address near me. Besides the red flag of the drastic overpayment, I could tell from his texts that something was off. There were odd misspellings and repetition.

I’m bummed that I now have to find someone else to work for when I could have been working a month ago, if only I’d been dealing with someone legitimate. Can I report him and if so how? I really want to help prevent just one person who’s not paying attention to details from getting scammed.

R.C., city withheld

A: First, you should contact care.com and give them a heads-up.

More broadly, anyone dealing with any kind of check scam should report this to the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Service and the attorney general’s office in your state. See the contact information below.

These check scams take so many forms, and they all end badly for the recipient of the check. Sometimes it’s a work-at-home scam. Or a foreign lottery or sweepstakes scam. Or an overpayment for a product being sold on Craigslist or eBay or another online service. And so on.

Most of the time when people contact me, they’ve already been ripped off. I’m glad you sniffed this out before you got sucked in.

Here are some good tips from the FTC:

Realize that even if your bank allows you to deposit a check, and it clears your account in a day or two or five and the money is available in your account, that doesn’t mean the bank can’t and won’t pull back the money if the check is a scam.Know who you’re dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.If you’re selling something, don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free is free.Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It’s illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.As a seller, you can suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment service. There may be a charge for an escrow service. If the buyer insists on using a particular escrow or online payment service you’ve never heard of, check it out. Visit its website, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. Call the customer service line. If there isn’t one — or if you call and can’t get answers about the service’s reliability — don’t use the service.If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there’s a problem with a wire transaction.Resist any pressure to “act now.”

Where to report check scams:

FTC: Call 1-877-382-4357 (877-FTC-HELP) or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information#crnt&panel1-3

USPS: 1-800-275-8777 (1-800-ASK-USPS) or


Your state attorney general. In Ohio: 800-282-0515 or http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/About-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam

Outside of Ohio, you can find out how to contact the attorney general in your state at: http://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php

In Cuyahoga County, you can also contact the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs. 216-443-7035 or