News 12 at 6, March 12, 2008
You've all heard money doesn't grow on trees. Well it doesn't arrive unsolicited in your mailbox either. So, if you get a random check or money order in the mail, be very skeptical, it's probably a rip-off.
Janice Elam and her family got a piece of mail recently that got her family very excited.
Four money orders in the mail for nearly 2 thousand dollars. It looked like the Elams had finally caught a break.
But Janice wasn't so sure.
"Let's go check 'em out." she said.
The name Wal-Mart appeared at the top of the money order, so Janice went straight there to get the money orders verified.
"When they checked 'em over. They said they were phony." she said.
The money orders aren't all that different from the fake lottery checks making the rounds.
They come to you out of the blue and with instructions to deposit them or cash them. You are to keep a small percentage, but send the rest off via money order to pay for fees.
Because they are bogus, they end up bouncing and you have to pay back all the money you sent off for those fees. That can often be thousands of dollars.
"Nobody is looking to give out free money. So even if you see a check in the mail and it looks legitimate, it's not." said Maria Audas from the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.
A realization that saved Janice a lot of money and trouble down the road.
"Maybe coming from Brooklyn, I'm skeptical of things. Especially when money comes in the mail that you don't know where it's coming from." she said.