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Scam Alert: If it is too good to be true...

PRESCOTT--"If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn't true," Prescott Police Chief Mike R. Bondarenko said in a warning to city residents about a fraudulent check scam tied to a fraudulent offer of employment as a customer service evaluator.

Recently, a Prescott resident received an unsolicited official-looking letter in the mail from an address in New York saying he had been "hired" to evaluate customer service at several large retail stores. The letter stated he would be paid $350 a week and given money to make purchases.

All the "secret shopper" had to do was evaluate customer service. He could even keep the items he purchased.

Enclosed with the letter was a check for $2,800 the recipient was supposed to cash and return $2,300 to evaluate customer service at a business conducting wire transfers of money. Fortunately, the recipient became suspicious the offer was too good to be true and contacted the police department.

"Our investigation showed that the check was counterfeit. The victim would have been asked to deposit the bogus check into his personal checking account, provide his account information and $2,300 would have been instantaneously withdrawn from his checking account. If he did not have $2,300 in his account, he would have been charged a $2,300 overdraft. The perpetrator would have gotten the $2,300," Bondarenko said.

In this case, the recipient, who was led to believe he was getting a job to go shopping with someone's money, would have become a victim of wire fraud extremely difficult to trace. Fraud perpetrators usually transfer money in and out of accounts all over the world electronically within seconds. The chances of recovering such a loss are remote.

"Never respond to unsolicited offers like this. They are always fraudulent," Bondarenko said. "Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true."