FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Call for Action Consumer Alert tonight: if you find money orders for hundreds of dollars showing up on your doorstep out of the clear blue, throw them out! It's not your lucky day.
Thomas Kingery, a U.S. Postal Inspector, explained how crooks carry out their plans to scam people.
"They were receiving large bundles of counterfeit money orders from West Africa and then divvying up the money orders to send across the country to people that had already been contacted via internet scams or mail order scams," said Kingery.
The crooks were counting on those people to deposit the money orders. When that happened, the scam artists would get access to the victims' bank account information.
But another problem: the money orders were counterfeit.
"There is a metallic security thread that in a real money order is woven into the paper. On the counterfeit it's just merely printed on the outside," said Kingery.
Real money orders also have a watermark of Benjamin Franklin on the far left side.
"On the counterfeits the water mark is actually printed on the outside of the paper, it's not a true watermark where it is visible when you hold it up to the light," Kingery explained.
So the moral to this story, according to U.S. Postal Inspector Thomas Kingery, "there is no such thing as a free lunch."
If you are not expecting a money order in the mail, or if you don't know who is sending the money order, you can take it to a post office and have the clerk take a look at it; they're trained to identify counterfeits. Or, you can just throw it out.