Ask Andy: Check scam

By Andy Wise - bio | email

(WMC-TV) - It could have been Jereline Murphree's lucky day.  She is a retiree on a fixed income.

A letter informed her that she was automatically entered into a sweepstakes by shopping at stores like Walmart and Sears.

"This check looks so real," Murphree said.  "I had won $50,000."

All she had to do was deposit a check in her account for $4,265 and send a percentage of it in a money order to cover the taxes.

She called the sender at the company RBC Financial.

"Wait a minute, this sounds like a scam," Murphrees said.  "He hung up on me."

Investigators said if Murphree had deposited the bogus check in her checking account and sent a money order, she would have given her money away to a stranger or had her account overdrawn if the money was not available to cover the amount of the check.

"People get greedy, desperate," said Sgt. Paul Huffstutler.  "They fall for scams."

Huffstutler said these scams originate overseas but law enforcement is working to track down the crooks.

"We are working very close with federal agencies, particularly Secret Service, actually benefiting greatly from the new formation of Department of Homeland Security," Huffstutler said.  "Now they are going after a lot of these check forges and con artists overseas.  They work closely with the FBI and Interpol and agencies in those countries to take down those big operations."

Murphree said she now knows first hand if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"Kind of a disappointment," Murphree said, "to know I didn't win that money."

The Mid-South Better Business Bureau said these types of scams are one of the top scams in the region.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.