Tips for Recognizing
and Avoiding Fake Check Scams
If someone you don't know wants to pay you by check but
wants you to wire some of the money back, beware! It's a scam that could cost
you thousands of dollars.
There are many variations of the fake check scam. It could start with someone
offering to buy something you advertised, pay you to do work at home, give you
an "advance" on a sweepstakes you've supposedly won, or pay the first
installment on the millions that you'll receive for agreeing to have money in a
foreign country transferred to your bank account for safekeeping. Whatever the
pitch, the person may sound quite believable.
check scammers hunt for victims. They scan newspaper and online
advertisements for people listing items for sale, and check postings on online
job sites from people seeking employment. They place their own ads with phone
numbers or email addresses for people to contact them. And they call or send
emails or faxes to people randomly, knowing that some will take the bait.
often claim to be in another country. The scammers say it's too
difficult and complicated to send you the money directly from their country, so
they'll arrange for someone in the
to send you a check.
tell you to wire money to them after you've deposited the check. If
you're selling something, they say they'll pay you by having someone in the
who owes them money send you a check. It will be for more than the sale
price; you deposit the check, keep what you're owed, and wire the rest to them.
If it's part of a work-at-home scheme, they may claim that you'll be processing
checks from their "clients." You deposit the checks and then wire them the
money minus your "pay." Or they may send you a check for more than your pay "by
mistake" and ask you to wire them the excess. In the sweepstakes and foreign
money offer variations of the scam, they tell you to wire them money for taxes,
customs, bonding, processing, legal fees, or other expenses that must be paid
before you can get the rest of the money.
checks are fake but they look real. In fact, they look so real that
even bank tellers may be fooled. Some are phony cashiers checks, others look
like they're from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names
appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their
don't have to wait long to use the money, but that doesn't mean the check is
good. Under federal law, banks have to make the funds you deposit
available quickly - usually within one to five days, depending on the type of
check. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn't mean the check is
good, even if it's a cashier's check. It can take weeks for the forgery to be
discovered and the check to bounce.
are responsible for the checks you deposit. That's because you're in
the best position to determine the risk - you're the one dealing directly with
the person who is arranging for the check to be sent to you. When a check
bounces, the bank deducts the amount that was originally credited to your
account. If there isn't enough to cover it, the bank may be able to take money
from other accounts you have at that institution, or sue you to recover the
funds. In some cases, law enforcement authorities could bring charges against
the victims because it may look like they were involved in the scam and knew
the check was counterfeit.
There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you
to wire money back. If a stranger wants to pay you for something,
insist on a cashiers check for the exact amount, preferably from a local
bank or a bank that has a branch in your area.
Don't deposit it - report it! Report fake check scams to VPD
Police Department )
WARNING!! Fraud for landlords!
Warning to potential landlords or people renting out rooms. There is a Fraud
scam going on right now. It sounds like this...
I am a Boy/ girl living overseas(Europe). I'm moving to your area. Your place
sounds great. It is really important for me to secure a place before i get
there. Can you tell me how much deposit is? I will send you a money order/
check /etc to hold the place. Then I will send you a large amount of $$ you
keep amount you need to cover rent and you send the rest back via money Gram,
or Western Union to my shipper so I can have my things shipped over
What is the scam? well the money order or check is stolen or counterfiet and
you will have put out the extra $$ to return the cash to person. Check it out
with Vancouver Police Department. I did and was told they get about 10
complaints a week on this scam.
Anyway if it is too good to be true... it is.
hope this helps one other person out there not get scammed!
Internet Fraud Preventive Measures/Tips
Do not assume that because the bank has cashed the check for you, it is a
legitimate check. Cashier checks take 30 days to determine if they are
Be more suspicious if you are requested to handle a transaction through a wire
Be aware of individuals posing as a representative of a client.
Call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
Reconsider doing business with individuals who are reluctant to answer your
Take precautions when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own
Watch out for individuals who only want to communicate via e-mail.
Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a
Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
Inquire about returns and warranties.
When purchasing a vehicle outside of your local area, consider utilizing an
escrow or alternate payment service.
Don't give out your credit card number(s) online unless the site is a secure
and trusted site. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a
higher level of security to transmit data.
Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit
Email the seller to see if they have an active email address and be wary of
sellers who use free email services, such as yahoo.com.
Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
Check out other web sites regarding this person/company.
Be guarded when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited
The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you
can often dispute the charges if something is wrong. You should also keep a
list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card
issuer's contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your
credit card(s) you should contact the card issuer immediately.