OLIVER SPRINGS (WATE) - Dave Woods has been unemployed for six months. To help make ends meet he assists his father at his dad's repair shop in Oliver Springs.
Dave went online in early June looking for a warehouse job.
He looked on Craigslist under general labor. Within a few days of responding to an ad he got an offer.
"I found a warehouse position and I clicked on it in Knoxville," Dave said.
Dave's potential employer sent an email saying the warehouse position paid $500 a week. His new boss said Dave would be starting within a few days and the boss would be making payments on his behalf.
When a second email came the new boss was more specific.
"It says they need him to help make purchases and help plan his daughters birthday party," Dave's mother, Sandra, said as she read the email.
Dave thought having to make plans for a birthday party was strange, but it was a job.
"Then he gets another one," she said.
The third message came with information explaining how Dave was going to make those purchases.
"He receives an email saying he's going to receive a cashier's check or money order in the mail," she said.
The next day two postal money orders arrived. They amounted to nearly $2,000.
"It told him to deposit them in his account," she said. "They would be good in 24 hours. They tell him to take the money and send $1670 to a supplier for funds, $50 for Western Union, and $250 for payment salary"
Dave says he thought the checks were real, but Sandra believed they where fake.
They decided to ask the one person who would know for sure.
"We went up to the post office with the money orders," Sandra said. "They said they were fake."
It wasn't too many years ago that postal money orders were considered foolproof.
Those days are long gone thanks to sophisticated copy machines that are able to duplicate just about anything.
6 On Your Side first reported on the fake postal money order scam about four years ago.
It is easy to see how the phoney money orders could be confused for the real thing.
"That employee did a very good job of instructing the customer that they were bogus," said postal inspector Wendy Boles.
Boles says just the possession of counterfeit postal money orders like the ones Dave received is a crime.
"Essentially they want you to cash these and send them the money," Boles said. WWhen the check or money order comes back no good, you are left responsible."
Inspector Boles says she sees bogus money orders sent to her office several times a week.
"There is no legitimate reason why anyone should ever send or give you a check or money order and ask you to send them cash in return," she said.
Dave Woods still hasn't found a warehouse job, but he is grateful that the post office employee saved him from losing a lot of money.
If you get a postal money order that looks suspicious, take it to your post office or bank and ask them to verify its authenticity.
Legitimate postal money orders have watermarks, special threads and patterns to distinguish them.
It is hard for many people to tell the difference. That is why it is best to have an expert examine the checks first.
You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.
If you have a consumer question send Don an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his 6 On Your Side Hotline number at (865) 633-5974.
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