Check scheme targets Mary Kay reps - WFLA News Channel 8

Check scheme targets Mary Kay reps

Posted: Updated:
ST PETERSBURG, FL -

Salespeople for products from Mary Kay and Avon appear to be the new targets for an old scheme law enforcement has seen before involving big checks and online orders.

In the scheme, which can target anyone selling something online, someone selling an item gets a big check from a buyer who says they accidentally overpaid, and asks the seller to deposit the check and send back the extra.

If the check doesn't clear, the seller can be out thousands of dollars.

"I opened it up, my husband was standing there, I said, ‘Oh this is definitely a scam,'" said Denise Maguire, who received two checks for more than $2,400 each.

Maguire says she was contacted first via text, then later email, by someone who said she wanted to buy a box of Mary Kay products for about $200. Maguire doesn't usually sell Mary Kay products anymore, but agreed to take the order.

About two weeks later, she says she got an email from the woman saying her boss would send the check because she was disabled. Then came an email saying her boss accidentally sent too much money – her entire paycheck – and she needed Maguire to deposit it and then send her the rest of the money, eventually asking for that money in the form of gift cards.

Both checks appeared to come from the account of a California company – another surprise since the buyer told Maguire she was from the east coast of Florida.

Contacted about the checks, the CEO of that California moving company, said the checks – which had different designs - did not look like they belonged to the company. Someone probably just got the info for them and printed them off, he said.

In this scheme, the bank and routing numbers of companies unrelated to the scheme are sometimes stolen and used on the checks, said Sgt. Kevin Smith of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

While there are reports of Mary Kay, Avon and other salespeople being contacted around the country, anyone who sells something online can be targeted.

Smith says a seller who receives a check under these circumstances should try to independently verify the information on that check, finding contact information for that company on their own instead of using whatever number of contact info may be listed on the check.  

If the check is deposited and it doesn't clear, the seller could lose money if they immediately send a check (or debit cards) to the buyer who overpaid.

"When it doesn't look right, doesn't feel right, you're probably being asked to take part in a scam you're not aware of," Smith said.

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