Counterfeit Cashiers Checks; a Variant on the "Nigerian" and "Dutch" Scams
The counterfeit cashier's check scheme targets individuals that use Internet classified advertisements, such as Ebay, to sell merchandise. In other variations, the scammer contacts tutors, music teachers, and others with small businesses and claims they want to use the victim's services.
Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a check, often printed as a cashier's check, for the amount owed to the buyer.
The amount of the cashier's check will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. In most instances, the money is sent to locations in West Africa (Nigeria).
Because a cashier's check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. Falsely believing the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.
In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money. Shortly thereafter, the victim's bank notifies him that the check was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.
You can go to this website and verify the routing number on the check and get the bank's phone number, then call the bank to verify that the account is real and the check is real.
There are a number of related scams, all that involve counterfeit checks. See:
One very real example of how this scam works (January 24, 2008):
Hello, my name is <name removed>, a victim of counterfeit cashier's check, $3,800 under Colonial Bank.
I am emailing you upon to report the loss after filing a report on the scam in police department with Case No.0901-XXXX.
As a 22 year old college student majoring in piano performance, I am currently taking off a semester from Indiana University of Bloomington due to my health condition and working as a private piano teacher staying with my family in San Carlos, California. I have been posting up a few classfields on craigslist to find some students; and that is where it started.
A lady named Patricia Galloway, who introduced herself as a 39 yr old, divorced, and living on 52 North 10th street San Jose CA 95112 contacted me regarding her son, Joe's piano lessons that she wanted at my house everyday while he's visiting his mother in California during a month of Jan. under his nanny's arrangements. Since she told me that she was a business woman currently traveling out to UK (with an international phone number +447045741262 as her contact info), she asked that after I get my Cashier's check through UPS(from Inter Juncture Corp. 500 Covertry lane suite 270 Crystal Lake, Ill 60014, received on 8th of Jan), I send a portion of money asap to her son's nanny in Conneticut, who will need the funds immediately for flying into California with Joe. Having no experience or knowledge about scams and falling into a perfect scenario, I deposited the check $3,800 into my Wellsfargo account on 8th of Jan at San Carlos branch, after checking the funds deposited in my account cashed out $2,000 on the spot, and sent the money to his "nanny", Suzan O'leary, under the address PO Box 374 Stafford, Sprinnga, CT 06076 through Moneygram so that they could come to California with the funds. It was after all the trouble to take care of first transaction of $2,000 to the nanny on Jan 8th that she started harrassing and threatening me to make more transactions with the rest of the money to different people such as Joseph Farias 98 north 5th street San Jose CA, 95112 and Reginald Townsend, 2201 E Willow St. Signal Hill, CA 90755 by calling on my cellphone more than 10 times with a blocked number starting from that night until the next morning and through numerous emails (that I have kept).
Realizing the situation and that all the money transaction requests are VERY suspicious without any further information about her son's piano lessons, I refused to do anymore transactions with her money and told her that I do not want to deal with money that is not belonged to me anymore. I let her know that I would send the rest of the money back to get my hands off of the whole situation because I did not want to get involved into anything bigger.
So Patricia Galloway provided me with her uncle's information in UK, John Galloway, 634 High Road Leytonstone London E11 3DA. I sent the rest of the money, $1,565 (with deductions of processing fees of Moneygram and UPS) as a Cashier's Check, through UPS (with tracking number 1ZR3793V0498024019) on 11th of Jan. with an expected arrival date in London as of the 14th of Jan.
It was two days after when the check arrived in London, on 16th of Jan, the original check $3,800 was returned and overdrawn into my Wellsfargo bank account that proved this case as a scam.
As a college student trying to make my ways out in a family struggling financially, it has been a devastating experience resulting in an enormous amount of money overdrawn into my account and finding no support or help from Wellsfargo to put a claim or a fraud in this case.
With enough information about the case with different addresses and the phone number, I sincerely ask you to take some time to look into my case to find the suspect so that I can get my funds reimbursed as I also have reported to the police.
Please let me know what I need to do at this point or if you need any more evidence from me since I have kept all the information.
And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive. We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!