Though most people write fewer checks these days, the Better Business Bureau says fake check scams are on the rise.
The new study suggests there are more than 500,000 victims of counterfeit checks in 2018.
Scammers are now meeting young adults online, telling them of a job opportunity or how they can become a secret shopper. They send the victim a real looking check to deposit into their bank account and ask them to send some of that money back or use it on gift cards. Days later the banks take the money away from the victim's account because the check was fake.
The BBB says people between the ages of 20-29 reported being victimized more than people of any other age range and that scammers are targeting young adults because they understand they're looking for jobs with flexibility either in similar fields or mystery shoppers. Plus they are accessible on social media.
"Just a general vulnerability that they may not be aware of the fact that these employment scams exist than maybe an older demographic would be to pay attention to our warnings on this kind of crime," said Jim Hegarty, CEO of BBB of Nebraska, SW Iowa, South Dakota, and Great Plains Kansas.
Maggie is from Lincoln and says about a year ago she found a mystery shopping job on Facebook. She researched the company, found pages of good reviews, and deposited a check they sent into her bank account after she inspected it. They told her to purchase Walmart gift cards and send the codes to shop with. Days later her bank told her the check was fake., and she was out the cash.
"It was devastating for me. I'm thankful that it was only almost 3 grand it could've been so much more but for my family with 3 kids at home right before Christmas I mean it was devastating."
The Don't Cash That Check: BBB Study Shows How Fake Check Scams Bait Consumers study looks at how fake checks dupe consumers, and has tips to protect yourself.