Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson warned area residents of a new scam targeting unsuspecting citizens.
The perpetrators offer employment opportunities for paid customer service evaluators. The evaluators are asked to test the service Western Union or MoneyGram by sending a large percentage of a bad check to a specific address. By the time the evaluator learns the check is bad, they've already mailed the money from their personal account through one of the two companies to a designated location.
"It's a slightly new twist on the same old scam," Lawson said.
Reports of a similar con was shut down in New York in September 2012, according to a news story on FoxNews.com.
Two websites, Idealcorp.net and Survsonl.com, promised the chance to work from home, helping a market research company gauge customer service at Western Union. Mystery shoppers were issued $2,000 checks, told they could cash them and keep $300 for themselves and wire the rest to someone overseas, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. They would then report on the quality of Western Union's customer service.
But the $2,000 check turned out to be counterfeit, and once the bank where the con victims deposited it learned it was worthless, the victim had already sent off the $1,700 balance - using his or her own funds. The banks held the victims accountable to pay back the money.
"These scams are particularly insidious because they target individuals looking for ways to bolster their income in today's challenging job climate," Schneiderman said in the news story. "While legitimate 'work from home' opportunities do exist, scammers who are simply stealing money under the guise of offering employment are on notice. Our office will continue to protect consumers and shut these bad actors down."
Schneiderman warned people to be wary of work-at-home opportunities, especially if they require any transfer of funds using Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service.
"Mystery shoppers set up through legitimate companies are generally paid after completing their assignments and returning their evaluations to the companies that hired them," the attorney general's office said in a statement. "They do not receive checks up front."
Similar scams have been reported across the country.