Postal Service Warns: Scam Letters on the Rise
POSTED: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 12:17pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 2:11pm
It appears to be a new twist on an old scam, a scam that used to get sent to your inbox is now arriving in your mailbox, dressed in official looking envelopes delivered by the post office. Vicky Nguyen reports.
Scammers aren't just targeting your money; they're also making money by recruiting unsuspecting workers right here in the U.S. The postal service is the most trusted federal agency in the United States and it's this trust thieves are banking on to get into your bank account.
"This is their full-time job,” says Postal Inspector Jeff Fitch.
This letter was mailed to neighbors in an affluent zip code where the median income is about $103,000.
The sender identifies himself as the head of investment banking at Barclays Capital. The letter names a relative of the recipient and says after that person's death, his investment containing $8.3 million is to be released to his next of kin.
We showed the letter to postal inspector Jeff Fitch.
"We see them coming in from the UK, Canada, Australia, Spain. They're coming from everywhere,” says Fitch.
Fitch says the letters are well-written, and they often come with a U.S. postmark, in this case, Los Angeles. And because the letters arrive in the U.S. mail and not via email, they can appear legit. And here's what appears to be the second part of the scam. Fitch says thieves are now recruiting people eager to work from home to do the dirty work.
"Print this stuff up, mail it out for us and we'll send you guys a check and you'd mail us back the difference,” says Fitch.
"They're just preying on people's money when there's not much money in people's bank accounts right now,” says Oppenheimer.
Neal Oppenheimer has been on the receiving end of a convincing bogus letter sent through the mail.
"It was one of those letters where you've inherited millions of dollars. I'm a lawyer, just pay these fees, let’s get going, get you your money," says Oppenheimer.
But he did what inspectors say everyone should do- report the scam and shred the offer. We called the sender of the letter, but the phone number was disconnected and when we emailed the sender we received a response saying he'd only speak with the recipient. Inspector Fitch says it's an example of how savvy the scammers have gotten and how careful.
So the next time you see something like this in your mailbox or inbox no matter how convincing. Take a minute to make sure it's not another scam.
Postal inspectors say if you suspect you've received a letter scam, bring it in to your local post office. They'll send it to a national database that inspectors use to track trends and issue public warnings.