Fraudsters hoping to get their hands on your money are using fake or counterfeit checks.
Check overpayment scams are just one tactic being used and you could be the next target. If you know what to look for you are less likely to fall victim to a fake check. Check overpayment scams target those selling cars or other valuable items through classified ads or online auction sites, such as eBay.
The fraudster replies to an ad or auction posting and offers to pay for the item with a check and makes an excuse for writing the check for more than the purchase price. The fraudster will then ask the victim to wire the difference after depositing the check. The victim obliges and later the fraudster’s check bounces; the victim is left liable for the entire amount.
There’s more too. In secret shopper scams, the victim is hired as a secret shopper and asked to evaluate the effectiveness of a money transfer system. The victim is given a check to deposit and withdraw from their account the amount equal to the value of the check. The victim is then instructed to transfer the cash to the fraudster. The check bounces and the victim is left out of pocket the amount transferred.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to track down the fraudster because when the funds are sent via wire transfer the money can be collected at different locations throughout the country. It is almost impossible for the victim to identify or locate the recipient.
It is best not to rely on money from any check: cashier, business, personal, or money order - unless you know and trust the person you are dealing with. Better still, wait until your bank confirms that the check has cleared. You are responsible for any funds you withdraw against a check.
Don't become the victim of a fake or counterfeit check scam. Here's what you need to do: discard any offer that asks you to pay for your prize, don’t enter foreign lotteries, make sure you know and trust the person you are dealing with and never transfer money to a stranger. If you are auctioning something online or through a classified ad only accept a check for the right amount.
If you believe you are the victim of a scam you can contact the Federal Trade Commission, the US Postal Inspection Service or your local consumer protection agency – the Illinois Office of the Attorney General, Springfield, IL website is illinoisattorneygeneral.gov and the fraud hotline is 1-800-243-0618.