An Ark-La-Tex task force is sending a strong message to consumers: Common sense is your best weapon against fraud. The warning comes as a steady stream of scams like overseas e-mails or offers of big pay-offs keep pouring in. Detectives warn that the old adage is true: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
They look so real. They cash like the real thing at the bank. You even get real money to spend once you send the rest of the cash back to the person who emailed you in the first place right out of the blue. But a month later the bank calls. The check didn't clear.
Detective Robert Greer of the Caddo-Shreveport White Collar Crimes Task Force warns people, "if you get something unsolicited in the mail or something from somebody you don't know, chances are it's a fraud."
You may remember, in a KSLA News 12 report just three days before Christmas such a scam targetted the Ray Family of Minden. They lost three thousand dollars. Their daughter Lauren cried, "I just can't believe it. How can people be so cruel and I just can't..."
Sadly in some cases the victim of fraud can soon become a suspect. That's if, detectives said, you know the offer is illegal but you still go through with it anyway. It all has to do with your intent. Such an arrest happens about 10-percent of the time according to Detective Greer. "Anybody that negotiates a document that they know to be forged is guilty of forgery which is a felony, doesn't matter the dollar amount and does not matter whether they cashed it."
Greer tells the public that large overseas corporations do not need you to cash client payments. And, there are no millions of dollars in Nigeria that someone needs help getting out of the country. Greer added, "you don't get something for nothing."
Once you send that money overseas it's gone. Greer said he's never seen a case where the victim ever got their money back or anyone arrested. The Caddo-Shreveport White Collar Crimes Task Force typically hears from ten new victims of such scams every month.
Story by Jeff Ferrell