Safe from Scams: Counterfeit money orders almost caused bad dreams for one salesman

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- US postal inspectors said consumers and businesses are losing millions of dollars every year due to the increasing number of counterfeit money orders.

He was shopping for a bed and he came back to buy it this time. Bob Long has been in the furniture business for more than 50 years but something about this customer made him suspicious. He wanted to pay for a king size bed with four $700 money orders. "The sale was for $2,700.00 and there was $100 change that would have to have been given to this person," said Long.

The customer also seemed to be in a hurry. "He wanted to get the bed delivered right away, within three, four days. I mean these people are not stupid. They know it's going to take five, six, seven days for it to come back to and it will be too late by then," said Long.

But a savvy salesperson was able to buy some time to look into the money orders. "Look when we deliver the bed-- three days later-- we'll return the $100 change to you, and the guy said, 'that's okay.'" said Long.

Long and his staff immediately took a picture of the money orders and sent them to a bank. "He calls us right back and he says 'these checks are not right, do not take them'."

Long then called postal inspectors who investigated the money orders and verified they were fakes. Their probe led to a quick arrest. Inspectors said there are several red flags, including variations in ink color and paper texture. "Once you hold up the money order, and you are unable to see the watermark, along with the strip that is illuminated. Once you hold it up at the light, if there's some markings by the amount that might look like that it has been erased," said Amanda Kaur, US postal inspector.

The suspect in the case faces federal charges for the counterfeit money orders and could face up to five years in prison.
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