Ask Officer Michelle – Receiving Suspicious Money Orders

Posted by smcnamee

I have received money orders from someone I don’t know. Could I bring them to the police station to be verified "Legal Tender" so as not to be caught up in a possible fraudulent scheme?

Dear smcnamee,

It may be a fishing expedition. Crooks that partake in these expeditions send out mass mailings in the hopes that one or two people will bite on their lure. You’re wise to be cautious.  Unfortunately, this often works, and it is hard to trace the originator. 

You can call the Financial Crimes Unit in your jurisdiction and speak to an investigator about your situation. If you live in the city of Sacramento, the telephone number is 808-0650. Our investigators are doing more with less so it may be a few days before you get a response. They will be the point of contact to give you the best advice on how to proceed. Thank you for your post!

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July 26, 2011 | 11:30 AM

You can try paying them in to your bank account and they will probably accept it. And, assuming you have sufficient cleared funds, or if you have a good relationship with your bank, they will let you draw on the amount. The problem comes when the check/money order fails to clear. Then you will be left with a depleted bank account, a nasty letter (and charges) from your bank and possibly even some interest from law enforcement if the check was stolen/altered.

Best practice is to find the financial institution that issued the MO//check and contact them directly.
Or, if you really wan to accept it and pay it in, make it clear to the person that gave it to you that there will be a minimum three week delay before you ship any goods/services. Scammers know this tactic and will pressure you to honor the check immediately, which is a major red flag in itself.

Visit http://www.scamdex.com and search there for matching details – they have hundreds of thousands of scam examples.

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