NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

SAVANNAH, GA (September 15, 2010): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police detectives have noticed an increase in counterfeit money orders and want to make the public aware.

In the past two weeks SCMPD Financial Crimes Detective Keith Edwards has seen over 10 cases of counterfeit money order scams in Savannah. “This is a disturbing trend” says Edwards, some of the victims are the elderly, people who really cannot afford to lose the money. The victims are losing a lot of money, upwards of $4,000.00 for one victim. Small internet retailers and the general public are favorite targets for money order counterfeiters. The lack of knowledge and education has led to counterfeit money orders being used to defraud people of their hard earned money. And it’s not just counterfeit money orders, they are scamming people with checks written on closed accounts as well. The best advice I can give people says Edwards,  “if someone is asking  you for a refund on a “overpayment” don’t do it! Pay attention to those red flags. And make sure all checks and/or money orders have cleared the bank”.

Information gathered from : fraudguides.com

The U.S. Postal Service inspectors say they’ve been working with global delivery companies, like Federal Express and UPS, to catch packages containing phony money orders as they enter the United States. They also communicate to financial institutions, asking them to “keep an eye out” and continue to be vigilant. You can find tips for identifying counterfeit postal money orders online,  at http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/

How to tell the difference between genuine USPS postal money orders and fake ones

The following information comes directly from the U.S. Postal Inspection website at: http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fakemo.htm

U.S. Postal Service Money Orders have security features that distinguish them from other financial instruments. Learning to recognize them will protect you from being victimized by the scheme. Postal Money Orders have special inks, watermarks, and security threads. The two most prominent security features can be viewed by holding the money order in front of a light source. Look for these features: 

  • A watermark of Benjamin Franklin, the oldest and one of the most famous signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, is visible on both the front and reverse side of the money order when held to the light.
  • A dark security thread running (top to bottom) to the right of the Franklin watermark, with the tiny letters “USPS” facing backward and forward. 

The Postal Service issues domestic and international money orders. Domestic Postal Money Orders cannot exceed a value of $1,000. They are distinguished by their green, yellow, and blue colors. Most counterfeit Postal Money Orders are domestic, with a face value of $750 to $950.

International Postal Money Orders are printed in pink, yellow, and gold and cannot exceed a value of $700. There has been an increase in counterfeit international money orders printed with values of $500 to $700.

How Counterfeit Money Order Scams Work

In a typical counterfeit money order con, the person selling an item is sent counterfeit postal money orders that together amount for more than the cost of the item being paid for. The buyer then asks the seller to keep the cost of the purchase and ship back the difference between what was sent and what was owed, in cash, along with the merchandise. This is also known as a Nigerian Scam because many of these types of scams have originated in Nigeria or other African nations.

These scams have become very sophisticated recently and there are all kinds of variations. If you want to ensure you aren’t accepting a counterfeit money order, never accept one from a stranger unless you have some way of verifying its authenticity. You can also protect yourself by being smart and watching out for warning signs such as offers to pay more than something is worth. Paying attention to “red flags” instead of ignoring them can save you a lot of grief…and money.

Seller beware! 

Information gathered from Craigslist about phony Money orders:

  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”
  • NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
  • AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION.

 

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