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Is this check real? Valley business says no

Posted at 2:00 AM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 11:42:10-04

MESA, AZ  — For the last week, Chris Bailey's Mesa business had been under attack. As the owner of Ethos Construction Services in Mesa, Bailey would rather be building office spaces.

Instead, he's battling a financial fraud.

Dozens of checks were written against his business to people he doesn't know.

Bailey found out more when a few check receivers called him to see if the checks were real.

"They explained they applied for jobs online. The job was filled but we really like your resume, and we want to hire you as a personal assistant," Bailey says.

The hired workers also got a job instruction sheet and a $2,400 check.

Their job was to test customer service. They were told to deposit the check, keep $400 for payment, and use the other $2,000 to buy gift cards and send them back.

It sounds like the old fake check scam. You buy and send those gift cards only later to find out the check is bad, and your money is gone.

Usually, a real business name is used on the check to make them appear legitimate. But, since there is no real bank account, there is no money to get.

Bailey's situation is much different as he showed ABC15 the checks coming into his bank for payment.

"This is our name, our routing number, our account number and actually a copy of my signature," he says.

Somehow these scammers had Ethos' real bank information.

"Someone got a hold of one of our checks," Bailey says.

And they made a lot of copies.

Since June, more than 50 checks have come in for various amounts totaling more than $170,000. All of them went to his bank for payment.

He shows me a list of all the checks, all denied by his bank.

Bailey has a system allowing him to accept or deny all checks. So, he hasn't lost any money. But he wonders how much longer this could go on.

When he let me know, we took it to the US Postal Inspector's local office asking them to investigate since the checks were mailed.

They say they referred the case to their fraud department.

Bailey says he's had no success getting any law enforcement interested in the situation.

And he says he worries other small businesses could lose money to the same scam.

"How do we stop this? Who investigates this? And the answer is kind of like no one. It's kind of an unpunished crime which is very irritating," he says.

After investigating, Bailey thinks he found the check that was copied and says he contacted one of his vendors to further investigate.

Hopefully, the Postal Inspectors office will investigate, and we can tell you more soon.

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