RCMP investigate fake cheque scam targeting Australians looking for work in Jasper

File / Global News

Jasper is a popular work destination for young people from down under, and the RCMP say they recently investigated an attempt to scam a worker looking for a job in the picturesque Alberta mountain town.

READ MORE: Alberta couple accused of leaving cheque fraud trail arrested

On May 11, Jasper RCMP received a complaint of a possible scam related to a fake advertizement in the local newspaper.

Mounties said the fraudsters published what appeared to be a legitimate ad seeking a care worker, aimed at people from Australia looking to move to Jasper.

A street in Jasper, Alta. in Jasper National Park. April 2, 2017. Karen Bartko, Global News

After the victim replied to the ad via text messages and emails, police said the suspects mailed a fake cheque and requested the victim cash it and use it to buy some items prior to their arrival in Canada.

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RCMP said the victim felt that something wasn’t quite right and decided not to cash the cheque. RCMP said the bank later advised them and the victim that if the cheque would have been cashed, the money would have been withdrawn from the victim’s account and transferred to the scammers.

According to CIBC, cheque fraud is among the oldest and most common forms of financial crime. The three most common types of scams involve counterfeit, forged and altered cheques.

READ MORE: Here’s one reason you should regularly check your bank account

In some cases, a cheque will be sent to a victim, who is later told they were given too much money and to return the balance to the sender. In reality, the victim ends up sending their own money before the fake cheque is caught.

“The problem with a cheque is, your bank has no way of knowing if it’s fraudulent until it goes through the cheque-clearing system,” Maura Drew-Lytle, director of media relations and communications for the Canadian Bankers Association, told Global News last year.

“It will send the cheque to the other bank, which has to determine that the account doesn’t exist or has insufficient funds and inform your bank — a process that can take days.”

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Cheques are an agreement between people, not an individual and their bank, she said, and it’s up to individuals to try to get payment if the cheque bounces.

READ MORE: How the ‘mystery shopper’ scam fooled a young mother, a factory worker and a senior

RCMP said in this case, the local newspaper was completely unaware that it was a scam and has since removed the ad, which was last published in March 2017. No arrests have been made.