Counterfeit Money Order Scams
The latest scam to hit American consumers involves counterfeit financial instruments. It's costing victims millions of dollars each month. Counterfeit checks and money orders — including postal money orders — are used in the scam, which often starts with what appears to be an innocent contact via an Internet chatroom or by email.
Con artists posing as students, tourists, and overseas military personnel ask for help in cashing checks and money orders, or target people looking for love or companionship, in order to exploit their vulnerability. Online auctioneers are also at risk. Scammers buy goods or services on the Web and offer payment by check or money order — often in excess of the actual value of the goods or services.
In other cases, con artists ship the check or money order and ask the victim to cash it, keep a portion as a "gift," and wire back the rest, usually to an overseas address.
How to tell if it's official
- Denominations are indicated on two locations.
- Discoloration of the denomination amounts indicates erasure (fraudulent).
- Maximum value for domestic postal money orders is $1,000.
- Maximum value for international postal money orders is $700. (Maximum for Canadian money orders is $1,000)
To verify a postal money order, call the Money Order Verification System at 1-866-459-7822. If you suspect fraud, call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455 (select option 4).