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Money order scame hits area
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A money order scam didn’t fool one Liberty County resident, and Linda Doolittle thinks her experience in banking gave her an advantage over the criminals.
According to Doolittle, UPS delivered two fraudulent money orders with detailed instructions on wire transferring part of the money to a foreign account.
Here is how the scam works: When a person receives the money orders, they are supposed to deposit them into a new or current checking account or simply cash them. The recipient then wires a designated amount to an account specified in the instructions. They are told to keep the remaining funds for compensation. Later, the money order turns out to be counterfeit, and the wire transfer or cash must be paid back in full.
To someone who isn’t familiar with money order fraud, it can seem like an easy way to make some quick cash, but after working at a credit union for almost six years, Doolittle saw the signs.
“It seems like that post office is located in London, but the money orders were written in Jersey City, N.J.,” Doolittle said. “Right there, it tells you that the thing’s a fraud.”
Local banks warn against similar inconsistencies. If someone receives a check or money order for a sweepstakes they did not enter, it is always a scam. Officials also warn against assuming that a check or money order is good just because a deposit has been made to your account. A deposit is a bank courtesy to customers, but knowing whether the check or money order will clear takes time.
Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier said if people in the city receive money orders in the mail and are unsure of where they came from, they should take them to the police department for examination before cashing or depositing them. He says Hinesville, and just about every other community, has been experiencing an increasing number of scams like these. So police are familiar with the situation.
“We do pass them on to the FBI or maybe sometimes the post office,” Stagmeier said. “Contact us, the police department, and we’ll do a report and pass it on to the proper authorities, if needed.”
The chief said when fake money orders are cashed or deposited, then spent, the bank or store turns to the person who cashed or deposited them to make good on the lost funds.
“I really think that if you get something like that in the mail, and you’re not expecting it, then there’s probably something up with it,” Stagmeier warns. “It’s probably fraudulent.”
Bank officials warn against accepting any checks or money orders from people you don’t know well. They say requests to wire money from those mysterious funds should always be red flags. And just because they have your physical and e-mail address does not mean you know them.
“We didn’t expect these,” Doolittle says. “When I checked the e-mail that night, we’d received an e-mail, too.”
The e-mail claimed the money orders were payment for mystery shopping and asked that Doolittle transfer some of the money to another supposed mystery shopper. The money was to be transferred to an account in the United Arab Emirates.
Doolittle’s concern now is to warn other Liberty County citizens about this type of fraud.
“It’s best to warn everybody to be aware that the scam is going on so they don’t fall for it,” she says.
Random mailings are not the only way this scheme can start. Similar scams have been seen as responses to posts in online classifieds, such as Craigslist.

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