Charlotte County woman says scammers sent check so she would wire them money

A check that came in the mail looks real, but a Charlotte County woman says it’s fake, and a crook was trying to get their hands on her hard-earned money.

We learned Tuesday this is a scam that is more common than not.

The FBI just released its 2019 statistics for scams like the one mentioned above. Not only has more than $10 billion been stolen from Americans in the last five years, but Florida ranks in the top 10 for the number of victims and how much those victims lose.

But, as we learned Tuesday, people now have the tools at their fingertips to fight back.

Tracey Barberena in Charlotte County hopes to warn others after she received what looked like a real check in the mail.

“You can see the watermarks in the back. It says original document,” Barberena said. “The paper is like a good quality paycheck.”

Barberena looked up the company the check appeared to come from and called it.

“It was a 55 and older community of an RV park in Donna, Texas,” Barberena said with a chuckle.

Barberena told us the RV park has received similar calls and didn’t send the checks.

There are also instructions with another phone number in the package.

“’After depositing the check, the funds will be available,’” Barberena relayed the message. “And he just says ‘Thanks for putting it in.’”

When we tried calling, there was no answer.

“These scammers are a little more dedicated because they’ve actually gotta spend a little bit of money to send you this envelope,” said Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist.

Kolko said it only takes a couple days for some or all of the funds to appear like they’ve been deposited into someone’s account.

“You’re going to get a note from them later, a phone call saying, ‘Sorry, we overpaid you. Could you wire the money back?’” Kolko said.

Our safety and security specialist also said they’re banking on you sending that money before the check bounces.

“Save as much of that information as you can,” Kolko said. “You can go online. Go to the FBI’s IC3 website, and you can report that information right there.”

The IC3 is the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Website visitors can click to file a complaint, then click IC3.gov to submit one.

Kolko says the more people who report these scams instead of discarding them, the more likely agencies like the FBI will be able to find the people responsible and prosecute them.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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