When an express-delivery envelope delivered to a Middle Georgia blues musician arrived, it raised suspicion immediately.
Michael Ventimiglia, the frontman in Macon’s Big Mike and the Booty Papas, wasn’t expecting any urgent mail.
“It had a second-day priority mail, one of those things from the post office — a nice envelope,” he said. “It had a tracking number and everything. ... Then I looked and I said, ‘From Boulder, Colorado?’”
Inside was a check for $2,974 from Green Eyed Motors, a used car dealership there. Upon closer inspection, Ventimiglia saw that the check was from a credit union in Dallas, Texas.
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“I said, ‘What in the world are they sending me money for?’”
The tracking number seemed legitimate. Someone had paid about $6 to send the envelope to him.
Ventimiglia called the bank, which told him they had no record of the check.
He called the car dealership to let them know about the phony check. He also searched consumer expert Clark Howard’s website, but he found nothing related to the scam.
“Everybody was very kind, but nobody knew about it yet,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do. ... This one kind of scared be because, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is too real.’
“If you put that in your bank, it looks so real that the bank would cash it. Then, next thing you know, they’ll be coming back three or four days later saying, ‘Hey man, you owe us $3,000-$4,000.’”
In many such scams, the angle is to get people to wire money to somebody they don’t know. If you deposited the check and wired money, the bank would soon know that the check was fake. Then you’re out the money because it can’t be retrieved.