Carlos Vidal is a South Florida school teacher who this summer thought he’d found a way to help make ends meet.
The mail arrived and in it this letter from Canada. Its writer was making Vidal a job offer to work checking the customer service at some well-known companies he had shopped at like McDonalds and Best Buy.
Then came and then a big check with instructions. Cash the almost $2,000 check, take out $500 for his salary, head to the businesses to see how their employees operated and then provide feedback to his boss, Vidal said.
So Vidal went to his bank, cashed the check and actually had the almost $2,000 in his pocket and wired the $1,500 to a location overseas as instructed.
And that's when the problems began, Vidal said.
The bank sent him notification that the check was no good. It was taking the $1,900 out of his account to cover the bad check. The money he wired from Western Union was gone.
The scammers had it, police said.
"These checks look real. They look very real. Everything looks real. The bank is real. The routing number is real," said Alejandra Castro-Nunez of Miami-Dade Consumer Affairs Division. "The bank is real and the cash is real. They gave this guy cash in advance. They gave him money."
The county’s investigators say its possible this job offer could be coming in the mail to thousands here. Federal agents are working with international police to try and locate these overseas scam artists.
Vidal even checked online to see if the company that was courting him was legit. It appeared to check out, he said.
"I believed this was an opportunity to earn money," Vidal said.
Bankers said generally people should wait seven to 10 days to make sure the check clears before spending the cash to avoid being hit with charges because of a scam.
"Once you wire money, that’s like sending cash you are not going to see again," Castro-Nunez said.