Woman Averts Scam By Saying No To Unsolicited Cash

By Jeff Neumeyer

December 22, 2010 Updated Dec 22, 2010 at 6:51 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- If you're unemployed at Christmas time, and someone sends you nearly $2,000 out of the blue, the temptation is to take the money and run.

Jan Stephenson of Fort Wayne is happy she didn't.

Stephenson came home one day this week, and on the stairwell leading to her apartment, there was a mysterious package that had a little surprise waiting inside.

Stephenson didn't ask for and wasn't expecting such a package that had a return address out of Massachusetts, marked extremely urgent.

The letter inside tied to a name and city in China told Stephenson to cash a pair of money orders in the mailing at her bank, then follow instructions given to her via an e-mail address provided.

Stephenson says two lawyers she approached told her the money orders totaling $1,950 appeared legitimate.

But she wasn't convinced.

Jan Stephenson/Avoided Mail Scam: " I pursued the Internet alley and decided to get the phone number for the return address, and the gentleman assured me, no, I'm sorry, it's not your money, and that this is a scam."

It’s not completely clear how the crooks would get money in this scheme.

Officials with the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana figure if a victim cashed the money orders and followed through, the scammers would likely direct the target to send them a portion of the money back for shipping and handling, administration fees or whatever other reason they conjure up.

Marjorie Stephens from the BBB says, in a couple of weeks, you could expect the bank to provide notice that the money orders turned out to be bogus, and the $1,950 dollars ordered returned.

Stephens says we become conditioned that protecting your credit card information is most important in steering clear of scams, but she says people also need to get in the habit of saying no when someone sends you money unsolicited.

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