Con artists put new twist on old scam

Thieves targeting victims in nightclubs

Published On: Feb 25 2013 10:10:22 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 25 2013 10:40:00 PM EST

Music, lights and laughter.  It doesn't sound like a place where con artists are waiting to pounce, but thieves have found a new place to recruit victims.

“They would approach a young woman at a nightclub, flash a lot of cash, buy them a drink or two and they would say 'hey, we’re launching an entrepreneurial business,'” explained US Postal Inspector, Keith Moore.

While still in the club, the scammers offer to help these women set up their own company.

“To start my business he told me to go downtown to get a certificate for the business and then take it to him,” said Briana Scroggiens, a victim of this fraud.

Briana filled out the forms to start a business, then opened a bank account with checks supplied by the con men.

“I deposited two checks for I think about $5-thousand dollars and I withdrew the money and gave it to the guy,” said Briana.

“They would basically have them deposit fraudulent checks – the checks would then be deemed fraudulent and the women would be on the hook for the money,” explained Moore.

Briana ended up owing the bank $10,000.

“The victims were basically at a loss," said Moore.  "Their credit was hurt; they were in debt to the financial institution for the money they lost.”

“What I learned from this is to be more careful about my choices." added Briana.

Briana was one of 25 victims in this case with more than $300,000 in losses.  According to FakeChecks.org, it could take weeks or months before the bank realizes a check is worthless.  By then, you've spent the money and you are liable.

So how can you tell if your situation is a scam, go to the "Fraud Test" area on FakeChecks.org.  There are quizzes to help you figure out if you are being scammed.  This can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.