By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
The check is in the mail but you could go to jail.
The Houston Police Department is warning area residents and businesses about the latest scam that has fake tax refund checks coming in the mail and people trying to cash them.
“We saw this scam a couple of years ago and it looks like it is back,” said Houston Town Marshal, Billy Voyles. “Basically you get a fake tax refund check in the mail and the people who send it to you say you still owe taxes and to send a portion of the refund to them and they’ll pay your taxes.”
Voyles said most people realize it is a scam and throw it in the trash.
“Where we are having a problem is local people trying to cash these checks,” said Voyles. “If you can’t prove you were eligible for that refund from that company, you can be charged with fraud.”
He added since the check comes in the mail, the U.S. Postal Service or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could bring federal charges.
Voyles said checks range in value from $1,600 to $8,000.
“Greed is what drives all scams like this,” said Voyles. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”
Voyles said while the checks have the correct name and address on them, it is pretty obvious they are not real.
“We are urging businesses to look for a watermark and at the quality of the paper and printing,” said Voyles. “A business doesn’t have to cash any check if they think it is bogus.”
Voyles urged both businesses and residents to call his office immediately if they get a check they suspect is fraudulent.
“The odds of us catching these scam artists is pretty slim, but you never know,” said Voyles. “The odds of someone local trying to cash
these checks and getting into trouble is pretty good since it has your name on it. The odds of a business losing money in this scam are pretty good, too.”
The Houston Police Department can be reached by calling 456-5065 or by calling 911.