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Rip-Off Alert: Wrong postage exposes scam work-at-home opportunity

A work-at-home opportunity was supposed to help one young mother make ends meet. But the only person who made money was the con man. (KSNV)

A work-at-home opportunity was supposed to help one young mother make ends meet. But the only person who made money was the con man.

Linda Thomas said she was hoping to make some extra money for her family. She was thrilled to find a payroll bookkeeping job online where she could make $1,400 a week.

“They would send me names through my Gmail account, and all I had to do was put the names on like a paycheck,” she said. “And I put them in an envelope and mailed them out through the mail.

Thomas worked for a month sending out two batches of checks per week until Pittsburgh postal inspectors came to her home.

It turned out the checks and postage she was given were counterfeit. An astute postal employee was the first one to notice the problem.

“A bunch of Express Mail envelopes, and they had the wrong postage,” said Stacy Kennedy of the U.S. Postal Service. “They had a Priority Label postage on it, and we looked at the return address and they were like all different out-of-state return addresses.”

The people receiving these checks also were caught up in a scam. They were asked to deposit the check quickly and send money immediately to a given address.

“Only days or weeks later to find out it that was a counterfeit check,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Joseph Bell.

Those victims lost the money they sent. Inspectors say the most important lesson is to research any potential employer.

"Google even the type of job that it is, and likely if it is a scam,” Bell said. “You're going to start seeing that type of language in your Internet searches.”

An additional reminder: If you're asked to buy supplies up front with your own money, postal inspectors say it could be a sign of a scam.

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