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As a public service announcement to other local business owners in the Houston area, watch out for this Craigslist check scam going around! Here’s what happened in our encounter and what you should beware of.

Wilkins Linen & Dust Control Service was recently affected by a Craigslist scam in where the scammers obtained our operating bank account information as well as the owner’s signature. A vendor check was either intercepted in the mail or purchased from someone who had cashed a legitimate check of Wilkins Linen & Dust Control Service; in order to obtain all of the information needed.

They mass produced similar checks and mailed to individuals who had items on Craigslist (throughout the U.S.A.). They fraudulently reproduced our vendor checks and owners signature in order to prey on individuals who had items listed on Craigslist or who were even applying for employment.

The checks were sent out via UPS in a higher dollar amount than the item being sold. The scammer would then contact the individual with instructions on how to “refund” them for their “overpayment” of the item. The scammers also hacked other business UPS accounts in order to send out shipping labels across the country showing from one location (the tracking number would show shipped from Canada, PA, FL, NY).

Unlucky individuals would not only have a fraudulent check they weren’t aware of but also be out money from their personal bank account(s) to give money back to someone they were being scammed by.

We were fortunate enough to catch the check fraud and close our operating account before being financially affected – it started with one phone call, an emailed picture of the check, and a concerned individual that knew this was a scam.

The scammers were unaware that the check number sequence was not within our current check sequence (easy to reject), and the checks they used were not high-security checks.

Should this stop us from mailing vendor checks in “snail mail”? Only pay our vendors with a credit card or online? Definitely not! Every business manager, accounting administrator or otherwise should check their online bank accounts every day – sometimes twice a day!

Watch closely fellow business owners and individuals out there, the scam artists are very well equipped these days–they can and will use any means necessary to make money. If only the scammers worked this hard at a legitimate job–then they would have money!

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