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Connects Against Crime: Postal Inspectors Warn Against Scams

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- To most people, it’s a despicable act.

“Scamming people, scamming old people...that's not right,” said resident Scott Kaegbein.

Postal Inspector Ron Jewell says unfortunately, it happens all the time.

“Probably on a monthly basis we’re getting and interdicting some of these,” Jewell said.

His job is to sniff out every scheme. In some cases, it starts with an online job offer.

“With no degree, no CPA, you're the chief finance officer for a company,” Jewell said.

These people serve as the middleman, making a few hundred a month to mail out checks to innocent victims.

These victims think they are making a sales transaction for online purchases.

“I just sold my couch on Craigslist for 200 dollars, they sent me this 2500 check, and they want me to send money back,” Jewell said, citing an example of one case.

The victims then wire back the money to the middleman, only to find out from their bank that the check is fake, and they are in the red.

It's a scary possibility than angers many we spoke to.

“They need to do something more productive with their lives,” resident Debbie Vaske said.

“There's other ways of making money, they can go out and pick up cans or whatever,” Kaegbein said.

It’s a scam that far too many fall for.

“There's so many different ways that they get a hold of people and start reeling them in,” Jewell said.

However, in a recent case, inspectors did the reeling. A few months ago, Postal Inspectors in Eastern Iowa busted one of the largest operations in recent memory. They recovered more than 1.4 million dollars in counterfeit checks and money orders from a single suspect.

The easiest way to avoid being scammed? Jewell says use common sense.

“If you're receiving a check in the mail, and it's more than you asked for, be leery.”

Also, be careful who you trust.

“Don’t wire transfer money to someone you haven’t met or shaken the hand of personally,” Jewell said.
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