The U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are sponsoring the "Fake Checks" public-awareness campaign aimed at protecting people against fraud.
The average check-scam victim loses about $3,500 and is solely responsible for the loss. International scam artists have found that U.S. consumers and the financial institutions they use for banking are easy prey, the Postal Inspection Service said in a statement.
The awareness campaign involves the use of television spots, print pieces and Internet advertisements that will remind consumers that check scams typically operate under the anonymity of the Web and that they don't work in person.
Popular scams include business propositions, the promise of friendship or a love interest and notification that the e-mail recipient has been selected as a lottery or sweepstakes winner. In many cases, the scam involves a request that the victim deposit a check for the criminal, who then for some reason asks for money back and, if successful, gets it before the original bad check doesn't clear.
If anyone believes they are a victim of a check scam, they can report it to www.fakechecks.org or call the Postal Inspection Service at 800-372-8347.