ATLANTA - What would you do if you began receiving checks and boxes of items at your home? Would you report it to the police or perhaps the post office due to possible mail fraud? Well, Mary Mouammar can tell you what it’s like because she lives it every day.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been alerted to another twist on identity theft, check fraud and name spoofing from consumers who shared concerns via BBB’s Scam Tracker regarding a phishy offer they received that identified Mary Mouammar as the sender.
Scam Tracker submissions indicate that a person named “Mary Mouammar” is sending consumers, first, an email asking if they are interested in making extra cash, then later, to those who respond, text messages requesting their name, address and phone number to sign up for the deal. Consumers communicated with who they thought was “Ms. Mouammar,” who mailed a package containing a fraudulent check to the consumer with instructions to deposit the check that was included. Fortunately, when one consumer attempted to deposit the check, a bank teller recognized red flags, was able to confirm the check was fake and provided education to the consumer on this type of scam.
Upon further investigation, BBB contacted Mouammar asking for a response to the consumer’s allegations and background information on her “firm.”
Mouammar immediately responded to BBB as she needed our help! Her identity has been stolen by con artists targeting unsuspecting consumers with fraudulent employment offers, which has resulted in her receiving an overwhelming amount of fake checks and items through the mail. Mouammar believes that she is receiving these items because her address is the only one the victims have been provided. And, since the con artists spoofed her phone number as well, she spends a great deal of time speaking with victims and letting them know she has nothing to do with the scam.
Mouammar also stated, “I have received mail returned to my home with my name and address on the label, they’ve been returned to me as if I sent them. I didn't send these fake checks. This is not my doing. I am a victim of this situation.”
So, who really is the victim? In this case, everyone! Consumers who were targeted and who received fraudulent checks, and Mouammar, whose identity has been stolen so con artists can perpetrate check fraud in her good name.
BBB recently conducted an in-depth study on fake check scams that outlined, “Nigerians and nationals of West African countries appear to be deeply involved in fake check frauds, though others are likely involved.” In addition, “Frauds employing fake checks are growing rapidly and cost billions of dollars… Fake checks were involved in 7% of all complaints filed with BBB Scam Tracker.” To view the full study, visit www.BBB.org/ScamStudies.
If you are contacted by a company for a job opportunity and you receive a check with a request to deposit it and forward the funds elsewhere, stop! You’re about to be a victim of a scam. If you deposit the check and send money to the scammer, you’ll have to return the funds to the bank once the check is discovered to be fraudulent.
The best advice we can give? Contact BBB first if you receive this or any type of job offer. BBB can assist you with determining if the offer is worthy, and can help you find an employer who maintains a positive marketplace reputation.
For information on fake check scams, please visit https://www.bbb.org/article/scams/14042-bbb-tip-fake-check-scams.
This investigation conducted and account written by BBB Atlanta Investigators.