LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Several residents have been taken by scams over the last month, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies told WBTV about one example where a Lincoln County woman told detectives she signed up online as a secret shopper about six months ago. On January 29, she received a letter and a check in the mail requesting that she cash the check for $3830.
She was then instructed to purchase $3,000 worth of Green Dot cards and upload the money onto the cards, deputies said.
She was told to keep the extra money as her payment as a secret shopper and mail the cards, receipts, and the original letter she received to an address in Smyrna, Georgia. Prior to mailing the items she called a telephone number provided in the letter and was instructed to scratch off the silver part of cards and give the caller the numbers.
The victim told detectives she became suspicious of the transactions and tried to retrieve the package from the U.S. Postal Service. The package was retrieved and turned over to detectives as evidence. She also called Green Dot and was told the cards had already been activated, and the money taken out.
The victim then called her bank and was told she would be responsible for the $3830 if the check bounced, the report states.
Deputies also cited other examples of scams that are related to online buying and selling websites like Craigslist.
Several people have reported receiving checks in amounts from $1,600 to $3,000 via FedEx from people they don't know who later call or send text messages telling them they want to purchase what they have for sale on Craigslist.
The thieves then tell the victims to deposit the checks, send the item for sale to one address and the extra money via MoneyGram or Western Union to another address. All of the checks are in amounts much higher than the asking price for the items being sold, officials said.
Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter said, "To be on the safe side, never conduct any monetary transactions with anyone over the telephone or by mail unless it is with someone or some company that is legitimate and known to you the customer. Remember folks, in today's world nothing is free and some people are out here to take everything that they can from you or your family…don't be overly trusting to anyone."
Investigators say "Be Skeptical." The scammers may send you a legitimate looking check but once you deposit the check in your account and then wire the money back to them, the check turns out to be a fake check.
Deputies say there is no legitimate reason for someone giving you money to be wired back or wired to a third party. Consumers are responsible for the deposited fake check, even if it's a cashier's check.
Other residents have received letters, telephone calls or email from scammers announcing that you have won a lottery.
They request that you first send them money to cover taxes and other fees which is illegal in North Carolina. No one will send you a check for an amount of money you are not expecting or seems "too good to be true".
You can report possible scams to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office at 704-732-9050 or to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll free within North Carolina, or file a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.