Your Taxes: Protect your pockets against the latest schemes
I’m sad to say this is my second article on fraud. It angers me to no end that there are mean people in this world who take advantage of others. But, since I’m blessed to have this platform to share my thoughts, I want to use this column to educate you on schemes I’ve seen happening in the area and try to prevent others from experiencing the headaches these have caused.First, let me revisit the same e-mail fraud I’ve shared in the past. It comes in the form of an e-mail from the IRS stating that you are due a refund and you should contact them. For the record, the IRS does not correspond via e-mail, they do not contact taxpayers regarding refunds that are available without filing a tax return, and any unsolicited e-mail you receive from an unknown source with typos and grammatical errors should be looked at with great scrutiny!Now, on to the latest schemes. The first scheme came to my attention when I witnessed it happening to a local resident during his recent job search on Craigslist. He found a position titled “Personal Assistant” offering $550 per week. He sent his resume in, and was contacted via e-mail with the details of the job. The job was for a wealthy Breckenridge local looking for an assistant to book travel, file and perform other duties while he was away on business. Within a few days, he received a check for $2,850. He was smart enough not to cash it and just walk away from the situation, but most likely he would’ve been asked to cash it, keep the $550 for himself and pay out the $2,300 to someone else, therefore getting himself involved in the fraud. The lesson learned? When something seems too good to be true, it probably is!Another scheme has been around for a few years and revolves around people trying to sell their used car on a site like autotrader.com. Once you list your car, let’s say for $5,000, you are contacted by a potential buyer who wants to purchase your car. They say they will send you a cashier’s check and they do, but it’s for $10,000, not $5,000. The excuse is that they were going to purchase another car for $8,000, but the deal fell through, and they don’t want to pay for another cashier’s check. Will you kindly cash the check and send them back the $3,000 difference? These cashier’s checks seem legitimate, and even have an 800 number printed on them you can call and confirm the account with. But, a few days after you’ve gone to your bank and cashed the check (and sent the $3,000 of your hard-earned money back to the buyer), your bank contacts you and tells you that the $8,000 check bounced and that you must return those funds to your account. The lesson learned? Never send cash back to a purchaser, and when selling items to others, ask for cash and do the transaction at a bank to have them check for counterfeit bills.I hope this column will spare at least one person the frustration and financial loss that fraud causes innocent, well-meaning people. If you have a good story for me of something that’s happened to you, please send it along. One of the best ways to beat the fraudsters at their own game is to share your story and help educate others! Michele Knight, owner of Knight Accounting & Technology, is a CPA and QuickBooks ProAdvisor based in Dillon. For more info or to contact her, go to http://www.cpamichele.com.
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