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Police Warn Residents About Check Scams

By Crystal Howerton

Police Chief Roger Waibel and Officer Kelly Hayes, with the Edina Police Department would like to caution area residents of potential check scams within the area.
Recently, an area resident received a check by mail, which turned out to be one of many scams circling the United States today.  And while the Edina Post Office admits that customers have reported check scams in the past, this is the first they are aware of such magnitude.  Fortunately, the resident turned over the dubious check and accompanying letter to the local authorities, instead of being caught up in the scam.
In January, the resident received an envelope postmarked in Canada.  Enclosed was a check from Garland Heating and Air Conditioning Co. Inc., Garland, Texas in the amount of $4,555.00.  The accompanying letter from Bargain Shoppers Express, Hickory, North Carolina invited the resident to join a "Secret Shopping" employment firm that specializes in conducting research to assist corporations in evaluating the quality of customer service provided to their clients.  
The letter included detailed instructions required to complete a Probational Training Task in order to qualify as a research personnel under the program.  The letter gives a breakdown of how the money should be spent, the majority of which is to be wired to an address specified by calling the agent using Money Gram and Western Union Transfers.  A minimal amount is to be spent at Burger King and Wal-Mart to conduct your customer service evaluations and $400 is for the resident’s payment and expenses.
The questionable mail and contents was turned over to the Edina Police Department, who determined that this was indeed another check scam for the purpose of convincing an unsuspecting party to cash a bad check and wire the money to the scam artists.  Officers draw your attention to the fact that the envelope was postmarked in Canada, the enclosed check was from a heating and cooling business in Texas and the letter came from a bargain shopping outfit out of North Carolina. 
According to Officer Hayes, while the North Caroline address, as well as the name of the company, are legitimate they are not affiliated in any way.  In addition, the Garland Heating and Air Conditioning Co. Inc. in Garland, Texas was contacted.  The Edina Police Department determined that the company was still in operation, however the numbers on the bottom of the check were from an account that had been closed for more than two years. Had the resident cashed the enclosed check, that person would have been liable for the specified amount.
Chief Waibel advises that residents exercise caution when dealing with questionable mail or receiving money that is unexpected.  "This is just one of many types of scams that are out there today," said Waibel.  "Just remember, if you receive something in the mail that is too good to be true, it probably is."
Area residents are encouraged to turn over any questionable mail to the Edina Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office or your local post office.