Niagara Regional Police and Brock University are warning the public about bogus cheques that appear to be issued by the University and are being circulated throughout Canada.
The cheques have been issued to people responding to an online advertisement seeking “secret shoppers” to evaluate the customer service at a major retail outlet and a money transfer service.
Respondents are couriered phony cheques bearing the University’s name and address, as well as the name of a major bank. People are directed to cash the cheques and wire a large portion of funds to a third party, under the guise of carrying out a secret shopper mission at the money transfer service. Meanwhile, the cheque bounces, leaving the recipient on the hook for its value.
The bank account on which the bogus cheques are written is a deposit-only account, and does not pay out withdrawals or cash cheques.
So far, the University has received about 30 reports of the worthless cheques turning up as far away as Calgary and Newfoundland, with fake values ranging from $1,950 to $2,950.
Police and the University are advising anyone who receives a suspicious cheque to destroy it. One way to tell if a cheque is counterfeit is by the bank’s address. The bogus Brock cheques show the bank as being in Toronto.
“There are numerous scams like this out there,” says NRP Det.-Sgt. Paul Spiridi. “Most involve the cashing of cheques for one reason or another and forwarding cash by money transfer to another party. Money transfer services are meant to transfer cash between people who know each other. They aren’t to be used as a means of commerce.”
“This has nothing to do with Brock,” Spiridi adds. “This is like corporate identity theft.”
Anyone who may have received and cashed a cheque is asked to call Niagara Regional Police at 905-688-4111 and refer to incident number 12-99589.