February 22, 2018
The Minot Police Department Crime Prevention Unit has received reports of a scam targeting area residents known as the “Money Order Scam”. These recent reports indicate that classified ads are being placed (in both newspapers and online) offering employment as a caregiver for elderly patients. The would-be victim contacts the scammer and provides their name and address. The scammer then agrees to send the victim an “advance” on their pay (usually a few hundred dollars). The scammer then sends forged/counterfeit money orders or cashier’s checks, for amounts well over the agreed to wage. The victim is then directed to deposit the checks, keep the agreed upon amount of money, and wire transfer the remainder to someone else. Often times the counterfeit documents are not immediately recognized, but once the financial institution realizes the error, the account holder is responsible for reimbursement of the full amount of the money. In most cases this money is next to impossible to recover because the scammer is usually out of state or in a foreign country.
Another variation of this scam that is being reported is known as the “Secret Shopper” scam. In this case the victim agrees to work as a secret shopper at area retail stores. The victim is mailed the forged/counterfeit money orders or checks and is instructed to deposit and keep an agreed to amount, spend another smaller amount at the chosen store, submit a customer service report, and wire transfer the remainder of the money to another person.
The amounts that victims have been required to reimburse have ranged from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Money order and classified ad employment scams are not new to Minot, but due to these recently received reports, the Minot Police Department wants to remind area residents to be extra cautious when sharing personal information when responding to classified ads. We also recommend not attempting to cash or deposit financial instruments that are in excess of agreed to amounts. If it does not feel right, or seems to good to be true, it probably isn’t right or true.