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Crooks Screw Up Classic Check Scam

DENVER (CBS4) - It's a classic scam but this time the crooks screwed up. They sent the checks but had no way to rip off their victims.

The intent was to get money and investigators say they've seen the scam before. But as sophisticated and organized as some scams can be, there are mistakes. This scheme did use the name of a well-known business. Experts say it was nothing personal, just random.

The checks arrived via express mail.

"I really don't understand why they would do that," said Thomas Knight, who received fake checks.

They didn't come with any correspondence, just two separate $1,000 checks.

"Now I'm thinking a $2,000 windfall, let's at least go see, you know." Knight said.

Knight and his roommate were not expecting the money, but when his roommate tried to cash them at a check cashing place he ran into a problem.

"They ran them through their system and they came back that the checks were bogus. I guess that there was something wrong with the routing number or account number," Knight said.

There was no letter with the checks, just a blank piece of paper folded around them.

"I believe they're part of a scam, we've seen them before," U.S. Postal Inspector Pamela Durkee said.

Durkee suspects the scam artists just got ahead of themselves as they mass mailed the checks. The return envelope states it was sent by Hensel Phelps Construction in Greeley. When 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks called the company, they confirmed they did not send the checks and have received about a dozen calls from people who did get them. The common denominator among them all appears to be Craigslist.

"He (Knight's roommate) was looking at an ad," Knight said.

Knight's roommate was looking at a painter assistant's ad online and filled out a form sharing his mailing address. That's why the checks arrived. The scam artists' plans were thwarted when they forgot to send their instructions.

The scams may start differently but they all end the same. They ask the recipient to deposit the fake checks and wire money, only later to learn the checks are bogus.

Those who receive this type of scam in the mail should take the envelope and everything inside to the post office and ask that it be sent to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to be investigated.

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