FORT MYERS - A heads up before you try to cash the next check you get in the mail! Scammers are sending you phony checks to steal your money.
Fox4 is finding out the United States Postal Service is now stepping in to warn you about scams but that has some people wondering if the agency is reading your mail illegally.
Some have raised concerns that "Big Brother" might be invading their privacy.
Raz Alhebshi was revved up after selling his Ford Mustang’s car rims online.
When asked how long it took him to sell the rims on Craigslis he replied, “Maybe a day or two days.”
Even more shocking; Raz received a check in the mail for a lot more than he was asking for the rims.
He tells us, "I was asking $450 and he mailed me a check for $1,680.”
Unfortunately, scams like these are common.
They work like this; someone buys an item posted online and then mails the seller a bogus check well over the asking price.
The buyer then instructs the seller to send back the overage amount.
Meanwhile, the buyer pressures the seller to do all of this quickly and that’s because they know the check will bounce.
Now the Government is trying to warn people like Raz before they even open the envelope.
One person recently received a bogus check and on the outside of the envelope was a letter attached stating in part:
"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service wishes to advise you that parcels similar to yours are often related to a scheme...you may be participating in, or be the victim of, an illegal scheme."
Victoria Vereance is a local Realtor who reacted by saying, "There must be some reason why they felt they could put that notice on that envelope."
And we also wanted to know how the Government even knew what was inside the envelope to begin with.
That’s why we went to a Cape Coral post office to find out.
After all, tampering with someone's mail without their permission is a federal offense.
A postal agent told us they likely attached the letter because the sender's return address was associated with a known scam.
Vereance now says, "I appreciate the fact the U.S. Postal Service is being diligent about it."
Raz says he's glad he did his own diligence as well.
He admits it was tempting to deposit the fat but phony looking check and when it came right down to it he's glad he's the one who decided to bounce.
Raz added this warning, "Don't accept checks through Craigslist, especially through Craigslist. Accept Paypal or cash."
Postal inspectors tell us they may also be attaching these warning letters to parcels that are sent out in bulk mail by a sender who has previously been flagged as running a scam.