Scammers are the Grinch this Christmas

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Police say scammers are working overtime during the holidays. The Garden City Police Department says you should especially beware of fake checks that look real.

According to GCPD, fake check scams include “mystery shopping,” “personal assistant,” “overpayment,” and “fake sweepstakes.”

The way the scam works is someone you don’t know sends you a check and asks you to deposit it. The check is typically for an amount that is more than the person owes you.

The scammer asks you to send the excess amount back to them or another person, and they offer a plausible reason why you can’t keep the extra money.

The check might be real but stolen from an identity theft victim. Or, it might look authentic, printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions. The bank will cash it, and you’ll send some money to the scammer.

It can take weeks before the bank realizes the check was fake or stolen.

“If it is later determined that the check was counterfeit, you will likely be held responsible for the funds that were provided to the scammer,” GCPD said in its scam alert message.

Garden City police say they got a new report this week of a victim losing thousands of dollars in what they thought was a legitimate mystery shopping assignment for Walmart.

GCPD offers this advice for how to avoid a fake check scam:

-Never use money from a check to send gift cards, money orders, cryptocurrency, or to wire money to anyone who asks you to.

-Discard offers that ask you to pay for a prize – if it’s free, you shouldn’t have to pay to get it.

-Don’t accept a check for more than the selling price, and “keep the change.”

-Check the sender’s methods of communication and call the company directly to verify the check.

-Don’t rely on money from a check unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with.

If you have questions or believe you have been a victim of fraud, immediately report it to your bank and contact your local law enforcement agency.

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