The Checkout

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 Arizona’s Attorney General Terry Goddard has issued an alert after several of his state residents recieved bogus cashier’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.

By  |  January 13, 2006; 6:59 AM ET Consumer Alerts
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Comments

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I was one of the many people fooled by this scam but it was thru a local consumer website Roomates.com. After the incident I reported it to the website, and the FBI internet fraud department.I was taken for $1600 dollars not including all of the NSF fees.

Posted by: Natalie | January 13, 2006 11:54 AM

"Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is."

This scam sounds much like the email scam that has been floating around cyber space for several years.

Some "attorney" or "bank official" in Nigeria (or, wherever) writes that they've come across a trust (or, whatever). They'll deposit a million USD into your bank account - just furnish the account # and also wire them a specific amount ($10K, whatever) to take care of the paperwork.

There's also a scam of late where someone contacts you, posing as a securities/fraud rep from your credit card company. They'll have your name, CC#, which gives you a false of security - and they tell you there has been suspicious activity on your account for such and such an amount. To prove you are in possession of your card, they ask for the security code on the back of the card - usually three digits. Give it to them and they're off and running up a bill on your card.

We really can't afford to be complacent. Have to be vigilent all the time or some skank will be ripping through our pockets.

My father said, "The more I know about people, the more I like pigs."

The older I get, the more I agree with him.

Posted by: Cynical Mainer | January 14, 2006 2:02 PM

I received a $5,000 check drawn on a Bank of America account in Texas, in payment for some merchandise that was supposed to be shipped to Nigeria. The check was allegedly from one of the Nigerian's U.S. customers, who "owed him some money." I was supposed to send the overpayment along with the merchandise.

Instead of depositing the check, I checked with my bank: their account only had $89 in it. The check was issued by a check-writing company in San Diego.

I turned all the information, including names, telephone numbers and addresses of the Nigerian's U.S. conspirators over to the West Los Angeles office of the F.B.I., complete with copies of all documentation.

I don't know if they ever did anything, but I never heard from the F.B.I. with a request to testify against anyone, so I guess they're too busy to look into things like this, which is surprising, because money sent to Nigeria as a result of this type of fraud might possible be used to finance terrorism.

Posted by: gene grossman | February 23, 2006 5:53 PM

i have received a check like that from donna ford 1-902 412 0404 east jefferson financial what do i do

Posted by: mike lane | March 31, 2006 7:09 PM

I am normally very careful about these things but I recently lost a job in December and in January I posted an ad looking to rent a room out in my house in the Washington Post and the internet. A girl called from Canada saying she was interested and would be sending money for a deposit. A cashiers check arrived which equaled more than 6 months. I thought it cleared since my bank said the funds were available.
Several days later I got a call from the girl saying that her father mailed me the money by accident and that she needed it back to get her car out of the repair shop, buy an airline ticket, etc. Bells should have gone off but they didn't, probably because I needed the money to pay bills. Once I used Western Union to send the money (more than $2600) I never heard back from the girl again. Her phone was disconnected several days later. I reported this to the FBI, local police and RCMP in Canada.

My main concern is why are banks crediting your account with money when a check/money order/cashier's check hasn't cleared?

Posted by: Brad | April 12, 2006 3:25 PM

i have been through the same stuff i have a 20000 check right now for a 1000 car now whats wrong with that pitcher and i will try to cash it you never no it is just holding that much money in your hand let me no if you need help finding these people i will play with them as long as i can lets see how many checks i can get thanks douglas

Posted by: douglas lee | May 19, 2006 11:11 PM

let me no if i can help like i said i got 5 people trying to send me checks my email is ttmmer@ earthlink.net

Posted by: douglas again | May 19, 2006 11:14 PM

Where do you go for help when this has happened? I am currently out of work and received a check for a new roomate. All of a sudden she requested the rest of the fund be sent to Nigeria via Western Union. I am currently using a credit union and in the pst when my Credit/Debit card was stolen they reimbursed all of the charges. I assume this isn't true for a check? I will now owe the credit union $4,500. My mortgage will not be paid this month which will now so it is ruining my credit. I will have to open a new bank account in order to not have the Credit Union take the funds that will be owed to them. We are told everyday how "SAFE" it is to have a cashier's check but yet when one is fake the consumer pays the price not the banks. Aren't the banks insured against this type of thing?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2006 1:58 PM

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Posted by: insurance auto | June 22, 2006 7:27 PM

i got scam with fake money order i don't know until the bank told me will i get trouble for them

Posted by: rose | August 5, 2006 5:39 AM

we recently recieved a cashiers check for 4800. it all started when this lady mandy cole asked me if i would help her .. so i agreed b/c i am i desperate need of money .. she told me that i will get 10% of each check and just wire her the rest of the money hey she made it sound so real she even had a sad sob story about it costing her too much money to come here to sell her paintings.... well guess what im a freaking idiot !!!!!! anyway i went to money mart to try to cash it b/c i dont have a checking account she did specify alot to deposit it into my account but i just figured she thinks everyone has one . well i couldnt cash it that day b/c money mart couldnt call the bank so the next day i went back everything was fine untill he called the bank they told him that it was fradulant... oh my god could i go to jail for this lady ? yes possibly but he just gave me back the check and told me it would be in my best intrest to just rip it up.. well im not giong to rip it up i am going to track down this lady. i am going to be nice to her as long as i can i am going to have her arrested i have made this my personal mission to hunt her down .. i did look into the feds but they wont do anything so if i have to go to the united kingdom to find this b#@&* i will ....... i just wanted yall to know i got hit too!!!!!!!!

Posted by: clintandjen | August 15, 2006 5:30 PM

My friend put an ad to sublease her apartment on Craigslist. Someone sent her an e-mail saying that they are in England, but will send her a cashiers check for 4500 for the apt that only requires 1,500, then she can send the additional 3000 to a family member in the UK via Western Union. After doing 1 minute of research on the net we realized it is such a scam. Thanks! beware!

Posted by: Jenny | September 25, 2006 4:40 PM

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