CHICAGO, IL – Sales consultants, who work from their homes, are the latest target for scammers using a fake check ploy to steal money, warns the Better Business Bureau.Â The basic scheme has scammers sending counterfeit checks to purchase products from people selling cosmetics, clothing and other items from home. The sales consultant deposits the check, then sends off the merchandise before the bank can process the check. Â The fraud is discovered by the bank when there are no funds in an account to cover the check.Â As a result, the sales consultant loses twice: making no money and losing the merchandise.
“At-home sales consultants need to be very cautious of these scams because they usually involve some problem or sense of urgency with the customer,” explained Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The urgent nature of the request causes the sales person to quickly send the products, so there is no time to see if the check clears.”
Bernas said a variation of the scam includes the request by the customer to overpay with a check, and for the sales consultant to send the merchandise and wire the additional cash to the supposed buyer.Â Hit by this scam version, the at-home worker loses the merchandise, the retail value of the products, plus the additional money the fraudulent check requested.
The BBB offers the following tips for home sales consultants:
- Look for incorrect spelling and bad grammar in emails. If you receive an email from someone insisting in paying by check, but that has bad grammatical errors, it is a red flag. Many scam emails are written this way.
- Never accept checks for more than the merchandise cost. Be sure to never wire any of these checks either, especially when you don’t know the person sending them to you. Wiring money is hard to trace and it’s hard to recover any lost funds.
- Verify that the check is from an actual account of a legitimate financial institution. Don’t use the number on the check. Instead, use directory assistance from the financial institution and call them to verify.
- Do not rely on the check’s money until it is verified by the financial institution. “Funds available” is never good enough.
For more tips and information about scams, visit www.bbb.org