Brad Buxton says phoney cheques can cost you



ben lemphers/metro edmonton


Brad Buxton, an auditor for the federal government, speaks to media about a scam to obtain banking information and cash

The cheque’s in the mail. Normally that’s a cheap excuse, but in the sleazy world of mail scammers it’s the only thing that actually might ring true.

Edmontonian Brad Buxton dodged that bullet — just barely. And he was at Edmonton police headquarters yesterday to warn others about the dangers of windfall offers.

Buxton answered an ad in his community newspaper — the Edmonton Examiner — looking for a mystery shopper, someone hired to check how well retailers are serving their customers. The reply sent him to a website that set off his radar but not enough to deter him entirely, so he applied. Some time later he did indeed get an authentic looking CIBC cheque in the mail.

"Who wouldn’t be excited to get a $2,500 cheque?" Buxton asked.

All the company that sent him the windfall wanted him to do was cash it, keep $200 or so for himself and send the rest off as a money transfer to a specified person.

What’s the catch? Well, the cheque was phony, but the transfer from his account would have been real. Buxton, who works as an auditor, smelled something fishy with the cheque and didn’t transfer the money from his account.

If he had, by the time the bank disallowed the cheque he would have been out more than $2,000 and revealed personal banking information to whoever picked up the cash.

According to Det. John Ellens of the Edmonton police, more than one million Canadians have been taken in by some sort of scam.

Sometimes it is just a request for $21.95 in fees so you can pick up a big winning lottery ticket. Or it could be an offer of a credit card with a $200 up-front fee before you get the $1,500-limit card.

"If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true," said Buxton, and echoed by Ellens.