Phony Check Scams
Forged and Counterfeit Checks You Receive From a Stranger
If you received a check from someone you don't know and
didn't expect to receive, it is probably a forgery!
We have many examples of fake / counterfeit checks sent to
victims, with my different reasons for the check: to pay taxes on winnings from
a lottery, as part of a "payment transfer" job, to compensate for some "fees",
"for your past efforts", etc. You may even take it to your bank and ask them if
it is real, and the bank may say "Yes" - but we can assure you: they are wrong,
and when the check bounces - you will be liable! your bank cannot possibly know
whether the check is forged, if it account numbers on it are real. Only
the holder of the account would know whether they wrote the check or not.
The bottom line is always the same: the check is forged and if you cash it,
it will bounce, and the victim will be liable for the full amount, any fees,
penalties and possible be charged with a crime, from passing bad checks to
Catch Me If You Can!
If you saw the film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, then you
understand basically how this scam works. The scammers use stolen
checks, often taken right from people's mailboxes, to obtain real bank account
numbers. The scammer then prints their own checks using the account
numbers, names and bank names from the stolen blank checks. The bank has no way
of knowing that the check is a stolen forgery (unless the owner of the stolen
checks reports them as stolen or never delivered).
It is an AFF / Money transfer Scam.
They'll send you counterfeit checks which you are supposed to deposit, take out
some percentage (typically, 10%) for your work, and then MoneyGram or Western
Union wire the remaining 90%.
See this page for a
step-by-step explanation of how the payment manager scam unfolds.
Of course, since the check is fake, it will bounce a week or so later after
you deposit it. But you have already moneygram'ed the scammers the 90% of
the amount, and that is transacted almost instantly. So you now owe the
bank for the full amount. You may also face criminal charges for passing
Sample Phony check scam emails
See these pages for actual scam emails received:
- Barrister Ben Esq, Mr
Fednard Marth - "Subject: I DID NOT FORGET YOUR PAST EFFORTS"
How to avoid being taken by this scam
See this page for a detailed
explanation of how the scam works and what to do to avoid being taken.
How to Avoid Having Your Checking Account Being Used by a Scammer
One of the reasons the phony check scams are often so successful is the
scammers steam checks and checking account numbers of real accounts then use
them to make the phony checks. Because the account numbers are real, the
banks often don't catch the scam at first. The names are only matched with
the account numbers later, when the real account holder gets the cancelled
check. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid having your account
used by a scammer:
- Print your own checks as you need them. If you print your own checks, you can
avoid this completely. You can print some
checks at this company's printing service for both personal and
- Get a locking mailbox. Since most checks are mailed to your home,
scammers steal them from your mailbox. Home Depot and Lowes sell locking
- If you have your checks ordered through your bank or credit union, don't
have them mailed to your home; tell them you want to pick them up at the
- Use Secure Check Stock – When ordering new checks, select the designs
with all of the following security features that are available: Copy
Void Pantograph, Zoom Micro printed border, Chemically reactive Check Paper,
- Control access to checks – Keep your blank checks in a locked place,
deposit mail containing checks directly in a government mailbox, shred old
checks, don't carry your check book with you.
- Use electronic bill payment through your bank, credit union or the
payee. Paytrust.com is another good bill paying service.
- Use credit cards instead of checks.
- Review your bank statements carefully!