COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Criminals tempting kids with promises of quick cash is a growing problem that authorities say is putting families across the valley out thousands of dollars.
Officials say criminals reach out to young adults in our area on social media, offering them quick cash if they give debit card, bank account, or pin numbers... but instead of gaining a few extra dollars, they end up owing their banks thousands.
"If you've got a student in high school or if you've got a student in college, then most of the time the parents end up having to eat that bill," said Sgt. John Bailey with the Columbus Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit.
Columbus Police investigators explain that criminals are promising young adults money for letting them use their bank accounts to deposit checks.
The problem is, by the time the bank and victim realize the check is bad, the criminal has already escaped with the cash and vanished.
"Ultimately the bank is going to realize at some point that the checks are fraudulent and then the account holder who willingly gave up their information is responsible for the accounts," said Bailey.
Social media pages are used to reach out to victims, luring in young folks looking to make a quick buck on pages like Craigslist or Backpage, where items are sold.
Officers encourage everyone to keep info like debit card numbers and bank account numbers secure - and to remember there is no such thing as free money.
"If they start asking you to Western Union them money, or use Green Dot, or MoneyGram, those type of money transfers are permanent. Once you make that, there is no way to recover the money whatsoever," said Bailey.
Local Wells Fargo representatives say they offer things like teen-accounts so that parents can monitor their teen's activity, and set limits. However, they say keeping sensitive information private is an important practice for everyone.
"The parents as well as the individuals want to make sure they never ever give out their card number, especially over the phone, unless it's a call that they actually initiated," said Wells Fargo manager Celeste Sumbry.
Officials explain that if your child has an account linked to yours, your bank account could be compromised if theirs is, so it's important to discuss security options with your bank.