Don't fall victim to this scam involving money orders that appear to be from the United State Postal Service that looks 100% legit but can cost you big time.I was shopping for electronics on Walmart's web site when a pop up asked if I would like to earn extra cash as a mystery shopper? Who wouldn't, right? so I clicked the link and filled out the form. It was basic stuff like my name, address and E-mail. Then they said they would contact me with an assignment. A few days later, a envelope arrived with this...

John Mason/TSM

A money order for $1000.00!!? sure enough, there it was!

Okay, the Wal-Mart letterhead and United States Postal Service logo looked real, the money order also looked real. I thought about going to my bank but instead, I went to the Post Office. I figured that if it was a real Postal Money Order, issued by the Post Office, they could cash it right?

I spoke with the Post Master who right off identified it as a fake. The water mark on the left (Washington's head) should only be visible when held up to the light. Also, the embedded strip (the silver line running top to bottom) should be solid and not broken like a bunch of dashes. Otherwise, it looked real. She even called in the serial number to verify it that way, it was not a valid serial number either (insert a look of shock here).

If I would have deposited the money order and then sent the money (to someone in the Philippines by the way) I would have been out a lot of money and possibly charged with passing a counterfeit money order and mail fraud, which is a federal offense.

So, the lesson I learned? If you think it's too good to be true, it probably is.If you question its authenticity, take it to the source that would have issued it and not deposit it into your bank account.

What To Do If You Suspect Mail Fraud?

Did you know the United States Postal Service has its own version of police and 'FBI' rolled into one? They're known as the USPS Postal Inspection Service.

The Postal Inspectors maintain a detailed list of the most common scams they encounter on their website.