Teenagers are being targeted on social media and other sites in a scam involving counterfeit checks and the promise of quick cash, the chief administrative officer at the San Jose, Calif.-based 1st United Credit Union said in a public advisory that offered tips to help counter the alleged scheme.
Greg Pulliam, the chief administrative officer, said 1st United Credit Union has seen a “recent wave” of money scams that target teenagers via text messages, social media and dating sites. Teenagers are asked to deposit a check, told to keep a portion for themselves and then instructed to send the remainder back via Venmo, gift cards or other means.
Victims in some instances provide mobile banking information to the conspirator, Pulliam said. When the checks are determined to be counterfeit, the victim is on the hook owing money, he said.
“These scams are occurring in our own backyard and we have learned that teens are sharing text numbers and websites amongst each other as a way to make money. Since teens are sharing information with their friends, the scams spread at an incredible pace,” Pulliam said. “We encourage families to speak with their teens about these schemes.”
Financial fraud scams targeting teens are not new, but they are continuing to proliferate. In 2018, 1st United warned about a scam targeting teens on popular social media sites including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
In that earlier scheme, the victims were offered money in exchange for providing personal information such as a Social Security number or financial account information. A 16-year-old victim in one case, the credit union reported, was paid $500 for a copy of his Social Security card. The fraudster then allegedly attempted to impersonate the teenager at the credit union.
“Make sure your teens know the risks of meeting people online and accepting money or checks from strangers,” 1st United said. The public advisory also said teenagers — and others — should not deposit checks from strangers or provide any personal information to them.
And it offered time-tested advice: “Trust your instincts. If the offer is too good to be true, it probably is,” 1st United said.