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How to Spot a Fake Check Scam

November 05, 2020 12:00 AM

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​Financial scams come in many forms and scammers are becoming more persistent with every passing day. It is important to be aware of different types of scams to protect yourself or a loved one from falling victim to a scam.

A fake check scam can happen to anyone and may present itself in many different ways such as when buying or selling goods through an exchange platform online or even a random check that appears in your mailbox. Regardless of the circumstances, the premise is fairly simple.

Here's how it works:

  • The scammer sends a victim a fake check that appears legitimate.
  • The victim then deposits this fake check into their account while believing they will be receiving more money in return than what is actually listed on the check.
  • While the bank is verifying the funds, it appears to the victim that the money is sitting in their account.
  • The scammer then makes up an issue that requires the victim to send money back to the scammer and instructs the person to use a money transmission service, purchase gift cards, or cryptocurrency, to be remitted back to the scammer.
  • When the check eventually does not clear at the bank, the victim loses the original amount on the check, as well as the money sent ahead to cover costs.
  •  After the scammer has taken the money, they will cease contact with the victim and make it almost impossible to recover the money.

What you can do to protect yourself:

  • Never accept a check for more than selling price.
  • Never send money or gift cards back to someone from whom you received a check.
  • Consider using an online payment service instead of a check for all online transactions.
  • Only rely on funds from a check when it is from a person you know and trust.
  • Talk to someone you trust before you act.

These scammers often target people interested in earning "easy money" for simply depositing a check. The scam relies on individuals depositing or endorsing the check stating that they assume the risk if the funds are not legitimate.

If you have fallen victim to a scam, you are not alone. Often, victims feel ashamed because they placed their trust in someone who stole from them and may not report the fraud. But in order for the authorities to investigate, victims must report the fraud.

If you believe you or a loved one have fallen victim to a scam, contact local law enforcement. Anyone can contact DoBS at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-722-2657 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products.

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