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Check scam moves off Internet to home mail

People should beware of a recent scam in which fraudulent checks are mailed to valley residents, according to Las Vegas police.

Thousands of the cashier’s checks were mailed to Southern Nevadans this week, Lt. Bob Sebby said. The checks often are issued to specific people and specific addresses, he said.

“If you’re not expecting it, do not cash that check,” Sebby said.

Included with the check is a typed letter asking the recipient to send an e-mail to the sender to find out why the check was mailed to him or her, Sebby said.

The recipient is encouraged to cash the check and wire a certain amount of money to the sender.

The checks are fraudulent, however, and the victim will be required to repay the amount. Police said the checks they’ve seen range from $3,800 to $12,000.

The envelopes have Las Vegas postmarks. They’re mailed in bulk to local mailing stores, such as a FedEx store, in boxes from Nigeria. The suspects typically use a stolen credit card to place an order with the store to have them postmarked and mailed from Las Vegas.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is leading the investigation into the scam, Sebby said.

Sebby didn’t know how many people had fallen victim to the scam, which is intended to prey on people during this difficult economic time.

“If it seems too good to be true, don’t do it,” Sebby said.

The scam is an old one, with different iterations that have surfaced on the Internet. Those include e-mails pleading with the recipient to rescue money from an overseas bank account.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

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