Check Scam - Don't Be A Victim

Check Scam - Don't Be A Victim!We received a letter in the mail which had a check and a notification. It said that we'd won a foreign lottery! So far so good, after all who does not like free money especially lotteries. The next step was to deposit the check but there was a catch which raised our suspicion. We're told to keep the portion representing our winning and wire transfer $3000 back to cover the taxes so that we could collect the rest of our winnings! Our inner voice whispered "Scam, Scam, Scam!"

Now let us present an anatomy of a check scam. Its always fun to unravel the details of a scam. The best part is to let our friends and relatives know about it so that they don't fall prey to ever new vicious scams.

Should we wire money to a stranger?

Even though the offer may sound like a nice deal, we should always remember that if something is too good to be true then it usually is. So never ever wire money to a stranger. The check that they'll send you will certainly be a counterfeit. And you'll be out of money.

How does the check scam work?

Check Scam - Don't Be A Victim!The "pitch" will be similar to the one we received but it might be cleverly disguised with different nuances:
  • You receive a check or money order with a note to deposit it in your account. Along with it is a request to wire-transfer the sender the money minus a nice "thank you" bonus for you for helping out.
  • You have been overpaid for an item that you sold on the Internet, so you're asked to wire transfer back the extra dollars.
  • A work at home offer promises that in return for depositing a money order or check to your bank account, you can keep a percentage of the money after wire-transferring the rest.
  • A stranger in a chatroom asks you for a favor: Kindly cash their check and wire-transfer them the money. God bless you for your help.
Regardless of the pitch, the result is the same. The check or money order that we receive for a deposit will be a counterfeit. It will be returned to our bank unpaid and the full amount will be deducted from our account.

Who is responsible for losses to our account?

We are responsible for any check or money order we deposit to our account. If it turns out to be a counterfeit, or is returned unpaid for any reason, we are fully responsible for the loss.

Why did the bank allow us to withdraw the money?

Banks are required by the Federal Law to make deposited funds available within 1 to 5 business days. Just because we could withdraw cash from our account shortly after depositing a check or money order does not mean that the item we deposited is valid. It can be weeks before a check or money order is discovered to be a counterfeit and returned to our bank unpaid.

Why didn't the bank know that the check was bad?

The job of a bank employee is to simply process our financial document. They may not be able to determine whether or not an item is valid.

You've been taken for a ride, now what?

Check Scam - Don't Be A Victim!If you believe that you've been victimized by a fraudster, contact your nearest Postal Inspection Service office by calling 1-877-876-2455 or the cops. Also, to know more about common consumer scams, check out the following websites:
We are looking forward towards your experiences, opinions or feedback regarding check scams. Please feel free to leave a comment for the benefit of all.

Image Source(s): iStockPhoto

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