WALL TOWNSHIP - A high school graduate from Monmouth County is out $3,600 because of a scam that targets teens, and Kane in Your Corner cautions parents as well as young adults to be aware of it.

Cailin Filardo thought she’d found the perfect summer job, baby-sitting for a family she met on an online baby-sitting site. “They offered me $20 an hour, four hours a day for five days a week, so it seemed like a pretty nice gig,” she says.

But there was a catch. The “family” said they were moving to the area and needed help setting up their new house. They mailed Cailin a check for $3,600 for baby supplies, told her to keep $200 for herself and deposit the check elsewhere, in an account they said belonged to the person supplying the stuff they needed. Cailin admits she found the arrangements confusing, but followed the instructions. She would soon learn there was no house, no family and no job.

“She ran into my bedroom, all upset, saying: ‘Mom, Mom, I think this whole thing was a scam, the check bounced’,” her mother Jennifer recalls.

And because Cailin was the one who cashed the bad check, she is legally responsible for paying the money back to the bank. 

Experts say this is just a new twist on an old scam, in which scammers send large checks and ask for some of it back. Cailin’s mother questions why the family’s bank, Wells Fargo, allowed an 18-year-old to cash such a large check. A spokesman for the bank says there are numerous factors that go into whether to allow a check to be cashed, including the size of the check, the customer’s history and the account balances. Jennifer Filardo says her name was also on her daughter’s bank account. While Wells Fargo did not comment on that, those kinds of arrangements often give teens greater protection against overdrafts, but conversely can also lead to greater flexibility when it comes to check cashing and having deposited funds clear more quickly.   

Experts say this kind of scam is becoming common whenever people use online job-hunting sites. Tomorrow, Kane In Your Corner offers tips on how to protect yourself in the weekly Consumer Alert.