Peru FCU is the victim of a nationwide check printing scam, and the credit union is warning other institutions to remain vigilant. The perpetrators appear to be using the checks as part of a “mystery shopper” scam that has been around for years.
According to Maggie Pope, the credit union’s CEO/manager, fraudulent Peru FCU checks are being distributed via UPS and FedEx throughout the U.S. There have been three “batches” of checks with dates of Jan. 14, Jan. 16, and Jan. 19 of this year, ranging from $1,500 to $2,950.
Check-cashing and mystery shopping scams are nothing new. As explained in USA Today, the scam works as follows:
Once a victim takes the bait, they are sent what may appear to be a certified check. The victim is instructed to deposit it into his or her bank account and use the money to make the assigned purchases. The check is for more than the amount the mystery shopper is instructed to spend.
The victim is told to keep a specified amount as payment and wire back the remaining funds. It is only after the money has been wired from the victim’s own bank account that the victim learns that the check was counterfeit and has bounced. Of course, the funds wired from the victim’s bank account to the scammer are gone forever without any effective recourse.
“We receive 10-15 calls a day to verify and 5-6 checks a day try to clear our now closed account,” said Pope. “We are working with the state police and our corporate account holder closely – thankfully we have suffered no losses, due to our strong internal controls.”