Cashier’s Check fraud is on the rise and fraud artists are becoming increasingly more sophisticated at inventing ways to steal from you using either faked Cashier’s Checks or real checks that have been stolen and printed with false information.
With today’s quality of laser printers and color copiers it’s not always easy to tell if a check has been faked. Real checks can be duplicated so well that it is difficult even for the people who work in financial institutions to be able to tell without looking closely or even calling the bank that the check is supposedly drawn on to verify its authenticity. The information printed on these checks like account numbers and the makers name will most likely be completely made up, though that’s not always the case. Criminals are getting smarter and can put real information on the checks to make then more difficult to spot as fakes.
Stolen checks are even harder to spot because all the security features that are supposed to be protection against faked checks will be present. The routing and account numbers printed at the bottom of these stolen checks will even be real numbers and only the originating bank will be able to tell that the checks are not real.
There are a multitude of scams involving these checks. If you receive “winnings” for a lottery that you did not enter, for example, you are probably the target if a scam. The most common tactic in these scams is for the scammer to send you a check for your winnings and tell you to deposit the check and send them back money with a guaranteed funds item for “taxes” but the fraudulent check that you deposited will be returned to your financial institution and you will be out the money you sent the scammer. Any real lottery already takes any taxes due out of your winnings and pays them on your behalf. Scammers will also purchase items through online auction sites and send a faked Cashier’s check for more than the agreed upon price and ask you to send back the difference. They don’t care about the item they “bought” because by the time you find out the check they paid you with is a fake, they have your money.
Armed with knowledge about these scams, you should be able to keep yourself from being defrauded by scammers using fake Cashier’s checks. The following are red flags that should alert you that the check may fraudulent or part of a scam.
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you have every right to question the authenticity of the Cashier’s Check:
Do you know the person who gave you the check?
Were you expecting the check?
Is the check drawn on a financial institution in the United States?
Does the check have security features such as watermarks, heat sensitive ink, or embedded security threads?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, the Cashier’s Check may be part of a scam:
Is the check for winnings in a lottery that you did not enter?
Is the check in payment for a large ticket item that you sold on an online auction site such as Ebay?
Is the check for more than the agreed selling price?
Is the party who gave or sent you the check asking you to return money to them for any reason?
Did the party who gave you the check contact you by e-mail or ask you to keep the transaction a secret?
If you have ANY suspicions about the authenticity of the Cashier’s Check or the transaction in which you received the check, don’t hesitate to take the check to your financial institution and ask a manager to verify it for you before you deposit it. They should be happy to help protect you and themselves from loss.