A tip from a stranger in California avoided what could have been mass confusion for an Abilene business targeted in a unique scam.

While it’s not unusual for scammers to use fake checks to lure victims into sending out money via wire services or prepaid cards, in this case the information on the checks was real.

Diane Miller said a caller from California on Tuesday alerted her that a check had been written on the M&M Tire & Auto account. It included correct information on a valid check with the exception of the phone number.

Miller said the account was closed that evening and attempts to cash the checks started the following morning. She said her business being used in the scam was not in danger of losing money. The people receiving the fake check were the ones being scammed.

Miller said so far 10 people have called her saying they received checks, each in the amount of $2,470 from the business.

A couple of those people sent her the UPS box, fake checks and the instructions that came with it.

“That is not how Sarah (Miller) and I sign checks,” Miller said.

Since the phone number is not on the fake checks, people searched for the business on line.

“It’s nationwide,” Miller said. “One came from a bank teller in Phoenix. She knew right away that it was a fraud. She said the check looked altered.”

The lady attempting to deposit the check said she was supposed to be a secret shopper for a juice company, the website behind the scam.

“There are people that are going to fall for this and be out money,” Miller said.

People are going to the website which offers different ways to make money at home.

The caller from California said her disabled father had been looking for ways to make money from home.

His assignment was to evaluate businesses that sell ebay gift cards.

“Pick any available denomination ($100, $200 and $500) and buy the eBay gift cards worth $2,000. Open the pack and gently peel the silver scratch-off area on the card. Capture the image of card front and back; please do not discard the cards as it will be used for your forthcoming assignment,” the instructions read.

He was then instructed to evaluate the store.

“As soon as the evaluation is completed, kindly have all details above mailed in your report,” the instructions read.

There was also an email address to send the information, including the gift card numbers. It is impossible to receive the gift card value once the numbers have been cashed in.

Another person was to be paid for a Car Decal Advertising program. He was sent the $2,470 check and was told to confirm the deposit by sending a picture of the deposit slip using SMS to a phone number.

The Abilene Police Department has been investigating the scam.

“Unfortunately, these types of scams can be very sophisticated and multi-layered, making it difficult to identify the actual perpetrators,” said Abilene Assistant Police Chief Jason Wilkins.

Police traced the UPS package containing a North Carolina address to Las Vegas.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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