Scammers target unemployed with fake check

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Con artists have reached a new low. Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis found them targeting the unemployed with offers that will set them back even more financially.

Marion Cardoza has been looking for work for months. When she received an express mail package, she found just what she thought she needed inside -- a big check made out to her.

"My thought was, "Oh my gosh! $1,800! That's a lot of money," Cardoza said.

The package also came with instructions for how to be a Walmart secret shopper.

"It explains your job duties," Cardoza explained. "You know, you're a Walmart secret shopper and, you know, you're going to be doing this, this and this."

She was instructed to do the mystery shop, deposit the check into her bank account, keep $150 for herself and then wire $1,650 to someone else.

Fortunately, the instructions raised a red flag.

KPRC Local 2 told Cardoza the official-looking check was bogus. Her bank would probably take it, believing it was good. After she wired that cash and the bank realized the check was fake, Cardoza would be on the hook for the money.

"That would destroy us," Cardoza replied. "I mean, it would totally destroy us. Who has $1,800 just lying around, just to throw away?"

What's worse is the scam seems to target people already financially strapped -- the unemployed. It turns out, all that job hunting on websites, like Monster and Career Builder, had left Cardoza's mailing address visible to the public. She wanted job offers, but she doesn't want anyone in her situation falling for the scam.

"When you're out of work, you are desperate, especially if you get a check for $1,800," she said.

Cardoza went back and checked the three job sites where she had posted her resume and found where her address was available to anyone who looked at the site. She was able to remove it. That's a good idea for anyone using those sites. Employers can always reach you by email or telephone.

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