Scam checks target Thomas Co. senior citizens - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Scam checks target Thomas Co. senior citizens

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THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -

By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) – There is an increase in check scams in Thomas County.

And the crooks behind them are targeting the elderly.

They hope senior citizens will deposit the fake checks so they can steal bank account information and wipe the victims out.

It's an offer literally too good to be true. A check arrives in the mail with your name on it for a large amount of money.

"The checks look very real," says Thomas County Sheriff's public information officer Lt. Steve Jones. "When I called Chase yesterday they said that account number had already been flagged. So yeah, the checks look very real."

And they seem to target the elderly.

"Just in these tough economic times, they're likely to go after people on fixed incomes. They're more susceptible to this kind of scam. And what was interesting about this scam is that it's not millions of dollars like some others. It's a realistic amount that some people might really think they've won."

Authorities say if you're unsure of a check's authenticity, call the bank listed on the check. But never call the number listed on a check or accompanying letter.

Lt. Jones continues, "As soon as these guys get you on the phone, they're very pushy and persuasive. And they're looking for personal information, a back account number, medicaid, social security, any identifying number that's attached to you. And you never want to give that information out."

The fake checks usually come in an envelope with no return address, making it very difficult to track down exactly where it came from.

And when it does have a return address, it's usually very odd looking.

"The return address was over the stamp instead of on the left side where it would normally be, traditionally in the U.S."

Because most of the scam checks originate outside of the country, investigators tend to end up with dead leads.

"Most of these are coming from outside the United States and it's difficult for us, impossible for us to pursue criminal charges on someone outside the country."

Which means if you get scammed, the crooks may never be punished.

Authorities say you should also contact your post office's consumer affairs or inspection services office if you suspect mail fraud.

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