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PHOTO SUBMITTED A copy of a fake Wal-Mart money order.
Oroville residents are being contacted over the Internet to conduct a business transaction of some sort and then are sent fraudulent Wal-Mart money orders in the mail.

Over the past two weeks, the Oroville Police Department has investigated these cases involving fraudulent money orders.

"The scam includes mailing the money orders to citizens, typically three at a time for sums up to $850 each," said OPD's Lt. Frank Belser. "The citizens are asked to cash the money orders, keep some of the money for their service and send the rest back to the scammer. The scammer actually provides a return address."

The fake money orders that have been seized by OPD are fraudulently duplicated as Wal Mart money orders. So far, OPD has recovered $4,800 in such fraudulent money orders. Three of the money orders were for $750 and three were for $850.

"We made one arrest of a female juvenile for passing a fraudulent, forged document," Belser said. "So far, local businesses and banks have been on top of things, but there is a possibility there are more fake Wal-Mart money orders out there. This type of scam is a typical cyber crime where the public is easily accessible to these types of criminals. OPD would like to remind the public not


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to partake in such activities, and that it is a crime to knowingly possess and/or pass fraudulent documents such as these."

Belser said people need to use some common sense to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, "If someone contacts you and offers to send you a money order or cashier's check in the mail or via UPS or Federal Express, and wants you to cash it and keep $100 and forward the rest on, there is something wrong there."

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey was reached for comment, "This type of scam is like the one involving sending fake money orders to someone trying to sell a puppy in the newspaper classifieds," Ramsey said. "One way to protect yourself from falling victim to this money order fraud is to put the money order into your account and then wait at least two weeks to see if the money order clears before sending any money to anyone. Of course, if you start to get pressured to forward the money right away, that is a red flag it is a scam. Remember, if it's too good to be true, it probably is."

For more information about fake money order scams and other types of frauds, see the District Attorney's website at: www.buttecounty.net/da

To report a suspected fraud call the D.A. hotline at: 1-866-DA-FRAUD (866-323-7283).