LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office is warning residents of a scam that is resurfacing locally, after several county residents reported receiving checks that turned out to be worthless.
According to reports, victims are receiving checks in the mail that claim to be part of a cash prize. In order to claim the prize, victims are asked to send money orders but they reportedly never receive the so-called prize money.
Another variation of the scam directs victims to deposit the checks into their bank. Once the funds are posted to the victim's account, the checks are returned as worthless - making the victim liable for any checks drawn on the account and the fake funds. Some local banks have flagged the fraudulent checks and asked victims to report them to the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office immediately. One victim who reported the crime to the sheriff's office claimed to have received four checks in the mail this year.
"This type of scam, unfortunately, is nothing new," said Lt. Joseph Reynaud of the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division. "Scam artists like to solicit victims to wire money because it's anonymous, untraceable and irreversible."
Reynaud added that Doña Ana County residents have also recently fallen victim to phone scams where callers ask for sensitive bank information in order to wire money from their account to help out a family member in trouble.
According to those reports, victims claim the person on the phone says that a family member is in jail in Mexico, and in order to bail them out, bond must be posted via a wire transfer.
Since January 1, the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office has received 103 reports of fraud in 2013.
Source: Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office