Many of you reading this probably received a fake check delivered to you. You either recognized outright it was a fake, or when you took it to the bank, they refused to take it, or warned you not to take out the proceeds of the deposit until the check cleared (which it didn’t).

I know this happened because hundreds of you turned over these checks to me. Did you ever wonder where the checks came from? Keep reading.

Don Zuehl of rural Dewitt thought he found a great work-from-home opportunity. For payment of $3000 a month, all he needed to do was process and mail checks. The necessary information came directly to his email address, he printed the checks and mail labels, placed them in parcels, and headed off to the post office to mail them. Simple, and it took him two or three hours a week.

But what Don actually found involved him in mail fraud for counterfeiting about $1,000,000 in counterfeit checks, potentially leading to financial loss of thousands of dollars to over a hundred unsuspecting victims across the US.

What happened? Don is like many people, and could use a few hundred extra dollars a month. Because of a disability, Don can’t work, but wondered about doing some work from home.

Don found sites on the internet where he could submit applications for work-from-home employment, and he did so. Soon enough, SurePayroll Company contacted him and sent him an employment agreement. Their representative sent messages to Don, describing his job – sending paychecks to people who agreed to allow an advertising company to “wrap” their autos with promotional signage. All Don needed was a color printer and a computer.

Don is an enthusiastic worker, and got right down to business. He set himself up with a color printer, and followed his employer’s instructions, printing out the checks, the mailing labels, and other documents. He sealed up the parcels and delivered them to either Fedex or the US Postal Service, got receipts, and returned the receipts to his employer. Don did this for about six weeks, sending out over a hundred parcels, with checks valued at over $1,000,000.

From Don’s perspective, he was crushing the job. In fact, he received an offer from another advertising company to work for them in a similar role. He felt pretty good about this – until he took a load of parcels to the Clinton Main Post Office, for a second time. The window clerks remembered him, and in conversation, he told them some of the details of his job. The window clerks contacted a postal inspector, who checked the pre-paid mailing label, and found it fraudulent. So the whole scheme unraveled right there.

Don feels terrible. “I am really sorry.” He is most alarmed at the prospect of many of the recipients of his checks losing money. If they deposit their counterfeit checks and withdraw the funds before the check returns as a forgery, they will lose their money.

You see, the “car wrap” deal is a scam. If you were one of the hundred victims of Don’s checks, you got instructions from the advertising company to cash the check, and send money to a “technician” to install the wrap. Once you sent the money away, it’s gone, but the bank cashing the check will demand re-payment.

Don tells me he learned “a hell of a lesson.” And he offers some excellent advice to anyone else considering a work-from-home job offer.

Do your research. Don admits he didn’t make much effort to check out his employer. If he did, he would have found the many terrible reviews on this scam company

Talk to someone you trust about the job. What do they think? If they express caution, heed the warning. Don admits his wife felt very skeptical about the deal, but he ignored her warnings

This whole affair makes Don wonder what he can do to make amends. He’s considering writing a letter to each of the hundred victims of his checks, apologizing. Don hopes his story, coming from someone with a real name, causes anyone considering these work-from-home jobs to “exercise your due diligence.”

I can add some of my own advice and observations. Work-from-home job sites are overrun with fakes and scammy crooks. Anyone asking you to do anything financial is going to be a fraud. And never pay money upfront for the promise of a job.

FAKE MEDICARE CALLERS RE-SURFACE

I received two calls in one morning from folks reporting calls received from fake Medicare representatives. Using different ruses, the callers angled to get the Medicare numbers off the cards of those called. In one case, the caller, offered a new plastic card to replace the paper card. In the second case, the caller offered a free knee brace to someone already suffering from dislocated knees.

Here’s all you need to know about these calls. Medicare (or Social Security) does not call you. Consider any such call as a fake.

Let me know about scams, fraud, or other crookedness you run across. Most of what I learn, I learn from you. Contact me at Seniors vs. Crime, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, 563-242-9211 extension 4433, or email me at randymeier@gapa911.us

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