If it sounds too good to be true...

Your name's John, right? John, will you do me a favor? I need to cash this check, but I don't have an account with the bank. If you'll deposit it for me, I'll give you 20 percent just for helping me out!

Remember the old adage: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In this case, the person may be trying to hustle you out of your hard-earned savings. The check or money order may be counterfeit, and if it is, you'll be out the money!

Hustlers have been known to set up this scam in a variety of ways:

- They overpay you for an item you sold on the Internet, then ask you to wire-transfer them the difference.

- They tell you that you've won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. They tell you to deposit the check - which represents just part of your winnings! If you send back $1,000 or $2,000 to "cover the taxes" you can get the rest of your jackpot!

- A "work-at-home" offer includes an advance payment for signing up. All you have to do is deposit the check or money order and send back two-thirds of the money via wire transfer.

Whatever the "pitch," the result is likely to be the same. The check or money order you receive for deposit will be counterfeit. It may take days or weeks to be returned to you bank unpaid, and when it does, the full amount will be deducted from your account. That's because you are responsible for any deposit you make to your account.

To learn more about common consumer scams, check out these website:

www.fakechecks.org

www.usps.com/postalinspectors

www.lookstogoodtobetrue.com

www.ic3.gov

www.ftc.gov

And if you believe you've been victimized by fraud, call the United States Postal Inspection Service toll free at 877-876-2455.