Consumer Alert: How to avoid falling victim to common scams

If you think you'll never be the target of a con artist, think again. No one is out of reach of criminals trying to make an easy fortune. Even the sheriff of Broward County, Florida found himself the target of scammers. He received a couple of fake checks in the mail.

"I knew right away, these companies didn't owe me money. I guess you're kind of offended, even as the sheriff, to find out even these crooks say I'm not impervious to the these scams," says Israel.

The con men obviously chose the wrong target. It shows that all of us are vulnerable to scams.

"There is no legitimate reason for somebody to send you a check or money order in the mail and ask you to send money back to them," says U.S. Postal Inspector Blanca Alvarez

This is one typical way con artists are luring victims into several schemes, including the so-called mystery shopper scam.

"They ask you to take a check or money order they send you and deposit it into your own bank account," says Alvarez.

They then tell you to buy an item, complete the mystery shopper questionnaire and wire back the remaining money from the original check.

"A few weeks later you find out that they check or money order you deposited to your account was counterfeit," says Alvarez.

The victims are on the hook for the entire amount lost.

"Never wire money to someone you don't know because once you wire the money, it's gone and it's almost impossible to get back," says Alvarez.

"If these individuals are going to send a check or try to commit a scam and the victim is going to be the sheriff of Broward County, they will do it to anybody," says Israel.

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