SANTA ANA, Calif. (2/4/15)--Credit unions beware: A mystery shopping scam is duping consumers with counterfeit checks--in this case, drawn on a credit union's routing number.
John Hendrix, vice president of finance and back office at Santa Ana (Calif.) FCU, told News Now that the $62 million-asset credit union has received eight calls and four emails from banks and Western Union outlets trying to verify the checks.
A mystery shopper scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), involves people being click-baited onto a fake retailer's site, then providing personal contact information. In turn, the victim receives a counterfeit check--in this case, drawn on Santa Ana FCU--which they are told to deposit, keep a portion as payment for being a shopper and then wire the remainder to other parties.
In this case, a shopper was instructed to cash a check worth $2,852, keep $200 and wire the remaining funds to two separate people in Florida and Missouri--all for the cause of evaluating a money transfer service. The letter also offers a $100 bonus for completing the transfer within 24 hours.
Hendrix said the counterfeit checks have the credit union's logo and routing number and are numbered higher than its current series.
The FTC cautioned that consumers shouldn't deposit checks from someone they don't know and wire the money back. It also advises filing a complaint with the FTC or the state attorney general.