Holiday Scam

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Tis the season for giving, but unfortunately it's also a time for scamming.

"It's sad to say its also a time for others to take advantage in some way through a scam," Lt. Jim Shaw of the Michigan State Police said.

Shaw said in the past four days, six people in the Jackson area have been duped by some kind of scam.

"It's called the secret shopper," he said. "They receive a letter postmarked from Canada along with a cashier's check for $4,998."

They're told to shop around, keep $300 for themselves, then wire the rest of the money back.

"But after three to five days, the bank contacts them that the checks are bogus," Shaw said.

Which means those people are out of thousands of dollars, which is a crime that's tough to prosecute.

"Those individuals are outside of the country and it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve that money," he said.

So what can you do to protect yourself this season?

Shaw said don't give personal information to unknown callers, don't respond to unsolicited emails or letters and especially, don't act on any checks you receive until they've cleared the bank.

"Anytime someone requests you send the money in order to receive money," he said, "that should be a huge warning sign to people."

Most charities depend on your giving nature during the holiday season, and scammers know that.

"It makes the conditions ripe for someone to take advantage through fraudulent activity," Shaw said.

So do your homework before you give.

Shaw said some websites can show you scams across the country before you get fooled like: www.snopes.com

To report a possible scam through the Internet, go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center: www.ic3.org

Or, you can go to the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov



 
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