Public Safety alerts campus to counterfeit money order and cashier

Public Safety alerts campus to counterfeit money order and cashier’s check scam

Public Safety Advisory – July 27

Public Safety wants to inform the University of St. Thomas community of a scam involving counterfeit money orders and cashier’s checks being offered to UST community members. 

Over the past two months, two UST community members and one non-UST affiliated person reported to Public Safety that they were contacted electronically by a person claiming to be an incoming international UST student seeking a rental unit. The UST community members said that they were contacted as a result of posting their rental units on the UST classifieds Web site. The individual offers to send payment covering the initial cost for the unit, but sends a money order or cashier’s check for a higher dollar amount. 

The individual sending the money order or cashiers check makes contact again and advises that they sent too much money, and asks that the difference be sent back to them; otherwise, they will not be able to buy their plane ticket to the United States.

In two of these instances, the victims sent money back in excess of $1,500, only to be contacted later by their bank and informed that the money order and cashier’s check were fake.

Anyone with information regarding similar incidents is urged to call Public Safety, (651) 962-5100, or the St. Paul Police Department, (651) 291-1111.

Fraud prevention tips:

  • Fake payment scams by their nature sound very believable.
  • Scammers actively search for victims online, such as those posting items for sale.
  • Counterfeit checks, money orders and currency look very real and even can fool bank tellers. 
  • Under federal law, banks must make deposited funds available quickly. Just because you withdraw the money doesn’t mean that the check is good. It can often take weeks to discover forgeries.
  • You are responsible for the deposits you make. Be certain who you are dealing with and the type of payment you have received.
  • There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you payment to ask you to send money back. Insist on getting paid the exact amount.
  • If you engage in online transactions, use a payment service (e.g., PayPal) to send and receive funds.