The Better Business Bureau calls it one of the biggest crimes currently hitting Middle Tennessee.

It’s one of the oldest scams on the books, just dressed up to trick people into parting with their hard earned cash.

It’s essentially a counterfeit check scheme that has some red flags that you need to be aware of.

Kathleen Calligan who runs the BBB of Middle Tennessee shows me counterfeit checks on her desk that total almost ½ a million dollars.

Calligan says by Christmas she expects the number of checks to double.

Here’s how it works. A company you recognize contacts you about a product or service you are either selling or associated with.

The scammer agree to purchase it, and then sends a check, which is more than the agreed upon amount.

When citizens inquire about the amount of the check, the scammer assures the citizen that everything is all right.

“They say it was a mistake, the bookkeeper misunderstood,” Calligan says, sitting behind a desk stacked with fraudulent activity. “OK, you say. I’ll send you the check back. NO NO NO.  The person will say no. please don’t send the check back. We don’t want to slow down the purchase. Just deposit our check in your account and you send to me by money gram or certified check the difference. Think about this. You have deposited a check for 55-hundred dollars in your account for an item that is 35-hundred dollars and what you do is, you are taking $2,000 out of your checking account and getting a very valid very legal transfer of a check and sending it to a con artist. That is the scam.”

Here’s how it works. Calligan says this scam is dressed up to fool you in a couple of ways.

First, they send you check using established delivery systems like UPS or Fed Ex. Calligan says the scam artists steal these numbers as well.

Secondly, she says; the checks are written on authentic looking accounts that might even be recognizable as company’s the citizen does business with.

Calligan says the key to not being ripped off is to slow down and think about what is happening.

Ask yourself, why is a company sending me a check for $5,000 when you are selling a boat on Craig’s List for $3,000 dollars?

If you have questions check with your bank before you send one penny anywhere.

Calligan says chances are, the only place your money is going is to a mail drop and then out of the country. and you’ll be left holding the bag.