Check Classified Ads Carefully

9 years 11 months 1 week ago October 18, 2006 Oct 18, 2006 Wednesday, October 18 2006 Wednesday, October 18, 2006 12:02:51 PM CDT in News

So, Decker turned to the Columbia Daily Tribune where she read, "Now hiring customer service evaluators. Different promotions in your area."

After Decker answered the ad, she received an envelope in the mail with a $2,800 cashier's check made out to her and instructions to cash it and wire the proceeds back through Wal-Mart's Moneygram program. The instructions said that would "evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of a payment system called 'money gram' at any Wal-Mart location."

However, after Decker did so, she recalled, "I looked in my checking account online and it was overdrawn like $2,000 or something."

That's because the check she cashed was fake. Target 8 called Jennifer Perkins, the person who signed the letter telling Decker what to do.

Perkins said, "If it's a fake check, why would she take it to a reporter instead of the police?"

When Target 8 asked Perkins if her company scams people, she said, "You'll have to ask the police," then hung up.

Decker also said United Missouri Bank charged her about $1,000 in overdraft fees, refused to run a fraud investigation or put a hold on her account. The president and other UMB officials said bank policies prohibit them from discussing her case because of security risks.

What's the newspaper's response?

"With all of the ads that come to us, we could not possibly scrutinize every single one of them," said Vicki Russell, associate publisher of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

So, where does this leave consumers? The Internet can help because The Better Business Breau has a site for alerts and warnings. A site called secretshopper.com even has an alert for this specific scam. Because the scam also used the U.S. Postal Service, it's easer to investigate than Internet fraud, but that's not much comfort for Decker.

"Unless you're on the Internet everyday, everybody's got lives, we've got jobs, and we're out there, so I just hope people know," she said.

Columbia police told Target 8 they need a copy of the fake cashier's check before they can investigate, but UMB has not returned the check although it's been more than a month since Decker lost her money.

If you have a story for Target 8 to investigate, call KOMU-TV at 884-6397 or email Target 8 at komu.com

Reported by Bonyen Lee

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