Consumer Alert: Beware of fraudulent money orders

In this consumer alert, WKYT is warning you about a scam that is robbing tens of thousands of people nationwide. It's one that can easily be spotted and avoided.

When big money for hundreds of dollars arrived in the mail, some victims thought it was their lucky day.

They thought wrong. The money orders are part of what's called the "mystery shopper" scam.

A US Postal Inspector says, "Often times they viewed it as a way to work without leaving the home and make money. All they have to do is go to the store."

Here's how the scam works: con artists send the money orders or checks to victims they lure in online.

The Postal Inspector says, "Anytime you're receiving checks or money orders in the mail, red flags should go up."

The victims deposit the money order, do some shopping as instructed, completed a survey and then send back a portion of the money deposited.

The problem is the money orders or checks are fraudulent, and victims are responsible for all of the money deposited.

The Postal Inspector says, "I haven't seen one of these things where someone actually makes money."

Postal Inspectors say there are ways to determine if a money order is fake.

"If you look at it, it has a Benjamin Franklin watermark; if you put it up to the light you can see that. If you hold them up to the light that is how you see it, if you put the money on the ground and Benjamin Franklin is looking back at you it's fraudulent."

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