The state’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which regulates unfair business practices, recently advised people to be careful of fake check scams targeted at babysitters.
Consider the following scenario: A babysitter replies to an online job posting, which says the family is moving to the area from out of state in a few weeks and wants to line up a babysitter. The prospective babysitter and the client discuss details via email. The babysitter will be paid $400 per week. The client sends an initial check for $1,800 and instructs the babysitter to cash the check, keep $400 for the first week’s pay, and wire transfer the remaining balance back.
The babysitter in this scenario has been subject to a scam involving a bad check and will be liable for the total amount of the check plus any penalties. The Bureau of Consumer Protection provides the following tips to avoid falling prey to a check cashing scam:
Scammers often ask you to send back funds by wire, often overseas. Wire transfers are like handing over cash—once the transfer is sent, it is nearly impossible to get the money back.
There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire it back.
Oftentimes, fake checks can look real, which can lead to the delay time between when a victim cashes a check and when the bank realizes that it is fraudulent.
You are responsible for the checks you deposit. If you cash a bad check, you will be required to pay the bank back the total amount plus any penalties. Do not take the risk of depositing a bad check from someone you do not know.
Scammers often claim to be in another country or to have difficulties with the English language, which gives them a reason to ask you to keep all communication in email or text messages. Scammers may also have an “agent” that will assist in the transaction, either by sending a bad check or by receiving the excess funds.
Please contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection for additional information or to file a complaint if you feel you have been subject to a scam. The Bureau of Consumer Protection may be reached at 1-800-422-7128, by email at email@example.com or online at http://datcp.wisconsin.gov.