Mail scammers target Columbia consumers

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COLUMBIA – Mail scammers are targeting Columbia consumers by posing as an Apple research company.

The scammers sent a check for $2,950.00 along with a letter in the mail instructing the consumer to buy $2,700.00 worth of apple gift cards to send back to the fake business. The consumer would supposedly then get to keep the remaining $250.00 for themselves.

“The check is probably fraudulent, and the check gets deposited into the consumers account,” Better Business Bureau Investigator Rebecca Phoenix said. “So when the check bounces the consumer is now responsible for that amount that they dished out.” 

Phoenix said mail scammers who try to get the consumer to buy something and send money or gift cards back to the fake business is extremely popular.

“If you get a letter in the mail giving you the opportunity to earn a couple hundred dollars, but you need to buy something in the first place that’s a red flag for a scam,” Phoenix said.

She said the scammers like to encourage the consumer to act fast before the opportunity ends.  

“Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency when it comes to their scams. So they know when they get you to respond right away you’re more likely to get them to respond in the way that they want you to,” Phoenix said. 

In order to avoid mail scams, Phoenix recommends you check the letter for grammar or spelling errors, make sure that it is not asking you to spend any of your own money and make sure it is something that you asked for.

“If you receive something that you didn’t ask for, so you weren’t looking for a job or you weren’t entering a lottery or sweepstakes, but you receive something in the mail, that’s a red flag for a scam,” she said.

If you do receive a letter or check you think is a scam, Phoenix said you can contact your local police, the Federal Trade Commission, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or log onto the Better Business Bureau and file a scam tracker report.

Phoenix said these types of scams are extremely hard to track, but encouraged consumers to step back and think before they act on a letter they receive. 

“If (it's) at all in question, take a breath and think through it before you act,” Phoenix said.