Counterfeit Checks
Most people believe a cashier’s checks and/or money order are almost the same as cash. In reality a Cashier Check is just like any other check. A Cashier Check when deposited at the bank must still go through the normal checks & balances before the actual funds are transferred into your account.

Scams involving counterfeit checks incllude where a seller advertises an item or service over the Internet. The “buyer” who may be from anywhere even a foriegn country, will contact the seller about buying the item advertised. They inform the seller that a cashier’s check will be sent and they expect immediate shipment of the item. The buyer will tell the seller that they either by mistake sent too large an amount on the check or that he will be sending a check for more than the purchase price to cover shipping.

The seller is then told they are to immediately wire the balance or difference back to the buyer usualy using Western Union. The victim then deposits the cashier’s check or money order in their own bank account and waits until they think the check clears. Because a cashier’s check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. At that time, the victim is able to withdraw the over-payment before the check ends up back to the bank that supposedly issued it. That can take three weeks or in some cases longer. After the victim sends  by wire the money back to the buyer, the scam artist is nowhere to be found and the victim learns from his bank that the check was counterfeit. The victim is told they must refund the full amount to the bank.

In friendship cases, the scam starts in chat rooms or dating websites where participants tell a hard-luck story usually about a large check they cannot cash in their own country. The scammer explains that if the victim will cash the check, they can keep a portion of it for themselves.

These fake cashier’s checks and money orders appear to be authentic — including the name of a legitimate United States bank and even containing the magnetic routing codes that appear along the bottom of the check. Unless the check is a legitimate bank issued with funds reserved for the amount, the victim will be responsible. The victim could aso face felony criminal charges of attempting to defraud the bank.