Work-from-home scam costs woman thousands

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The flexibility of a "work-at-home" job sounds great -- especially for mothers juggling different schedules, but FOX6's Contact 6 says beware of scams!

"I wanted to do something that could work around the schedules of all the kids because everybody had different schedules and especially with the baby," Alana Howell said.

Howell is a single mother of four, and needed to supplement her income.

"I was on the internet looking for an online job and I got an email and it said they we`re looking for representatives in this state to build a bigger business," Howell said.

Howell was told she would be paid for depositing checks the company sent her into her account -- then sending a percentage back to the company.

"I went to the bank, deposited the checks (they sent me two checks) totaling almost $4,000. About three days later - received note saying they`re fraudulent checks and I was now in a hole," Howell said.

Howell now owes the bank more than $3,000 and things have only gotten worse.

"I`m still stuck in a problem with the bank and my credit is going down and it`s hard for me to pay that back because I have other bills I`m taking care of. Really, really tough. It makes me feel terrible and vulnerable. After a while I felt kind of silly, and I think why did I do that? But I didn`t know," Howell said.

Law enforcement officials say this type of scam is on the rise. Suspects are sending out thousands of fake checks and trying to beat the system.

"The scam artist is counting on the bank releasing the money or you having sufficient funds in your account to cover the expense check back to the scam artist. You don`t discover the check is going to bounce until after you`ve wired or sent the money back to the scam artist," Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said.

Victims are then responsible to the bank for the fraudulent check amounts deposited.

Howell says she is angry.

"I`m a single Mom. I`m already struggling as it is, taking care of what I need to take care of -- and then you have people taking away from you and you`re trying to make better for you and your family," Howell said.

Howell continues to struggle in her dispute with the bank. She has a red flag on her banking account, which will not allow her to open any other accounts in other cities and states.

Postal inspectors say you should always be suspicious of a deal that is "too good to be true."