Beware of Fake Cashier Checks
A cashier's check used to be a sure thing. No longer.
There's a raft of scams involving fake cashier's checks and Arizonaâ€™s Attorney General Terry Goddard has issued an alert after several of his state residents recieved bogus cashierâ€™s checks ranging from $3,000 to $6,000. In some cases, the checks were accompanied by letters notifying recipients they had won a lottery or sweepstakes; the "winners" were supposed to deposit the checks into their accounts and then wire a lesser amount outside the country to collect their prize. In another case, the recipient sold an item over the Internet; the buyer paid with a fake cashier's check in an amount much higher than the prize, with the buyer asking the consumer to wire excess funds back to him.
I know these examples sound like such clear scams that you have to wonder how anyone falls for them. But people do--and often. I get a lot of calls from readers who say they are smart, well-educated and savvy consumers, but they still were fooled. So be careful and follow some of these tips:
There is usually no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask for money to be wired back.
Do not cash or deposit a cashier's check from someone you do not know. If you are instructed by the sender to deposit the check, then wire money back to a third party--this is a scam.
Do not rely on the fact that the check was accepted for deposit by your financial institution as evidence of the check's authenticity. In many cases, these checks look so real that even bank employees have been fooled. Consumers are responsible for deposited checks so if one bounces, that amount will be deducted from your account--and if there isn't enough money to cover it, the bank may take money from your other accounts.
January 13, 2006; 6:59 AM ET
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