Online Scammers Target Debt-Laden Christmas Shoppers

As consumers run up credit card debt with their Christmas shopping, many are falling victim to scams that promise an easy way to pay down their bills.

If you’ve spent any time online, you may well have seen ads headlined “Work at Home” or “Mystery Shopper.” They promise thousands of dollars in income for little if any effort.

Denise Owens is a vice president in Comerica Bank’s financial intelligence department.

“Once the person applies for the position, then they’re ultimately sent a counterfeit check. They’re asked to do certain things, one of which is wire funds back out of the country — normally not through their bank but through Western Union. And once the funds are gone, the check charges back as counterfeit, and unfortunately, the customer is left holding the bag.”

Such customers often find their accounts cleaned out, even overdrawn. Because the criminals are based overseas, the victims have little chance to recover their money. Owens says the best hope such individuals have is to report any such request to wire funds to their bank before making a transfer.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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