Recession-related scams still hot; phony checks top the list of recent report

Scams targeting those who can least afford to be ripped off continue to be among the most prevalent frauds committed, according to the National Consumer League's just released 2009 Fraud Center report.

Topping the list are phony check scams, which now make up more than 42 percent of all complaints. Scammers send worthless checks to the victim as a payment -- typically for some sort of business opportunity, sweepstakes winnings or a good being sold -- under the premise that the victim send part of the expected proceeds back to them (before they figure out the check is going to bounce, of course). When the bank later determines the check is no good, the person who cashed it ends up being on the hook.

"Consumers are looking for ways to supplement their income or learn new skills," NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg said in a statement accompanying the report. "Unfortunately, fraudsters know this all too well and they target vulnerable consumers with business opportunity or scholarship-related scams."