Fraud Awareness

Counterfeit Cashiers Check

 

 

Overview

The counterfeit cashier's check scheme traditionally targets people who are selling items through classified ads in newspapers, flyers, or magazines; Internet classified ads; or Internet Websites designed to facilitate the sale of merchandise. Other types of scams that may use counterfeit cashier's checks are employment, lottery and Nigerian letter scams, which are discussed in the Common Frauds and Scams section of this Website. Scam artists, often located outside of the United States, look through these ads and Websites to find potential victims.

For people who are selling merchandise, a check or a draft may be sent by a scam artist that is well above the amount of the merchandise that is being sold by the seller. The scam artist will say that the additional amount is for shipping and handling and will request that the recipient wire the difference back to them. By the time the check comes back as fraudulent, sellers have shipped the merchandise and sent back the excess funds. In some cases, scam artists may try to cancel the order and request that the victims return the full amount of the funds, including the excess for shipping. A bank will typically release funds immediately, or after a one-or two-day hold, for cashier's checks. However, if the check does come back as fraudulent, the bank will hold the account holder responsible for the full value of the deposited check. By law, people are legally responsible and fully liable for any and all checks, money orders, or wires deposited into their bank account, including those deposited by the account owner or by someone else.

Additional Information

For additional information on how to safely conduct transactions over the internet, you may want to visit E-Bay's Security Center and FakeChecks.org.

For additional information and who to contact on employment fraud, you should visit Security Center at Monster.com.

Who to Contact

If you have been victimized, contact your local police.

If you are a U. S. resident and receive a counterfeit cashier's check or draft in the mail, either foreign or domestic, this falls under the jurisdiction of the U. S. Postal Service. You should:

  • Print VOID across the face of each check/draft.
  • Place the check/draft and any enclosures back in the envelope.
  • On the back of the envelope (outer envelope if double) print the name of the scam, COUNTERFEIT CHECK OR DRAFT, ATTN: U. S. POSTAL INSPECTOR.
  • Drop the envelope off at any Post Office, back side up, so postal employees can see what you are handing them.

You may wish to file a mail fraud report to alert the U. S. Postal Service to go with the above.

You can also file a complaint with the Internet Complaint Center (IC3), which is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Tips for Preventing

  • Be cautious when dealing with people outside of your own country.
  • Contact the financial institution on which the check or draft was drawn to ensure legitimacy. Obtain the telephone number from a reliable source, not the check.
  • Ask your bank if the deposited check has been honored, which is different from whether funds are available. Honored funds means that your bank has been paid by the account holder bank. Don't use or spend the funds until they are honored funds.
  • If in doubt about a check, ask the check to be sent for collection. Your bank will not put any funds into your account until the check has been paid. You will likely be charged a fee by the bank and this process could potentially take as long as eight weeks.
  • Be cautious when dealing with questionable checks. Although the checks may appear legitimate, fraudsters will use routing numbers and account numbers that do not agree with the printed information on the check. Additionally, a fraudster may use the names of legitimate people and companies.
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