Postal inspectors step in and alert woman to work-from-home scam

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Many are enticed by work-from-home opportunities -- and one woman caught up in a work-from-home scam didn't realize she was doing anything wrong until postal inspectors questioned her.

Almost $750,000 worth of fake postal money orders were put in Express Mail envelopes and sent across the country to hundreds of people.

"I knew someone had been mailing hundreds of pieces over a year. On a certain Saturday, 150 went out from six different post offices -- about 25 each one," U.S. Postal Inspector Bob Schmidt said.

Once postal inspectors confirmed who was sending all of these packages, they confronted the woman.

"She couldn't believe it at first. She wanted to help right away -- offered email, phone numbers, whatever I wanted to help catch the guy," Schmidt said.

She said the checks and instructions on what to do came from West Africa.

"These people are usually victims themselves. They've gone online to look for a job to do from home, and they get contacted by the scammers," Schmidt said.

She didn't realize the checks were bad or that she was doing anything wrong. The con artists promised her up to $200 an hour. Inspectors say be weary of these promises.

"No company is going to pay that much money to have somebody stuff envelopes and ship them out. Be weary of anything online really. They can really disguise themselves. They could say they are whomever they want to be," Schmidt said.

In a mystery shopper scam, the goal is to get the victims to deposit the checks, buy something small while shopping, and return the remains of the check to the company before the bank realizes the checks were counterfeit.