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My story today about fake check scams prompted reader Alan Nathan to call with a similar scheme.

Nathan, who is unemployed, says he received a letter from a company in Ontario, Canada, thanking him for applying for a customer service job. Nathan says he didn't.

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The letter included a check for $3,780 that he was instructed to deposit in his bank account. "It looked like a real check. The address (on it) was a business on the Avenue of the Americas in New York City," he said.

The letter said he was then to wire money back to the company via Western Union, but keep $400 for his work. The company said the purpose of the exercise was to check the customer service of Western Union.

Nathan says he took the check to M&T Bank, which verified that the check was a fake.

Nathan called me so to warn others about this scheme. Con artists, Nathan says, are "targeting not just the elderly, but people who are unemployed."

Ok, too, weird. Just as I was about to post this, Donna Smith in Parkville called to say she received a check for $3,200 to be a mystery shopper. She was supposed to keep $420 as "first week's pay" and wire money back to a company via Western Union.

Smith says she was suspicious at the start. "This just looked bogus," she said. She called the phone number in the letter, and the woman who answered promised that it was a scam. Smith said she checked out the name of the company online and found lots of people declaring it a con.

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