Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks Flooding The Country
Many consumers assume that a cashier’s check is equivalent to cash. That belief is now dangerous to your financial health as a tidal wave of counterfeit cashier’s checks are now flooding the country. The counterfeit cashier checks can be very similar to authentic teller checks. The average consumer would not be able to detect a counterfeit cashier’s check. Often times, the depository institution accepting the check is not able to detect counterfeit checks until the check is returned unpaid.
It is not unusual to see one or two banks report to the FDIC that counterfeit teller checks bearing the bank’s name are in circulation. This week, however, 14 different banking institutions across the country reported counterfeit cashier checks to the FDIC. Counterfeit cashier checks bearing the following institution’s names were reported this week:
- Wolf River Community Bank, New London, Wisconsin
- First Associations Bank, Dallas, Texas
- County Bank, Merced, California
- Community Bank, Pasadena, California
- Ohio Vallley Bank, Gallipolis, Ohio
- South City Bank, Vestavia Hills, Alabama
- East River Bank, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Community Bank of Florida, Homestead, Florida
- The Bank of Fairfield, Fairfield, CT
- Bank North, Wausaukee, Wisconsin
- The Wilton Bank, Wilton, CT
- Pacific National Bank, Miami, Florida
- Tropical Financial Credit Union, Miramar, Florida
- Financial Security Bank, Kerkhoven, Minnesota
Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks Typically Used In Payment Scams
A typical scam using a counterfeit cashier’s check for a purchase usually involves the following ploy. The purchaser presents to the seller a cashier’s check for more than what is owed and gives some elaborate explanation for why the check exceeds the amount due. The seller accepting the cashier’s check feels safe, especially since the check exceeds the amount he is due.
The buyer then asks the seller to cash the cashier’s check and immediately forward the overpayment to him. The con man knows that banks are required to make funds on the first $5,000 of a cashier’s check available to the depositor within one day. The seller deposits the check and sends the overpayment to the purchaser. In three to five days, the seller finds out that the cashier’s check was counterfeit and that his account has been debited to make restitution on the counterfeit check.
Consumer Vigilance Required – Here’s How To Protect Yourself
Consumers need to be aware of the scope of the problem involving counterfeit cashier’s checks. Ohio Valley Bank, which has reported counterfeit checks bearing its name, has the following good advice for consumers.
If you can answer “YES” to any of the following questions,
you could be involved in a FRAUD or about to be SCAMMED
- Is the CHECK from an item you sold on the internet, such as a car, boat, jewelry, etc.?
- Is the amount of the CHECK more than the item’s selling price?
- Did you receive the CHECK via an overnight delivery service?
- Is the CHECK connected to communicating with someone by email?
- Is the CHECK drawn on a business or individual account that is different from the person buying your item or product?
- Have you been informed that you were the winner of a LOTTERY, such as Canadian, Australian, El Gordo, or El Mundo, that you did not enter?
- Have you been instructed to either “WIRE”, “SEND” OR “SHIP” MONEY, as soon as possible, to a large U.S. city or to another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?
- Have you been asked to PAY money to receive a deposit from another country such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?
- Are you receiving PAY or a COMMISSION of facilitating money transfers through your account?
- If you cash or deposit a cashier’s check that is later found to be counterfeit, YOU are responsible for returning those funds to the bank where it was cashed. If it is questionable, ask the teller before you cash or deposit it.
- Just because a bank teller cashes a cashier’s check doesn’t mean that it is good. Even if it is found to be counterfeit weeks later, you are responsible for returning the funds. Be especially wary of cashier’s checks that appear to be from banks outside your local area.
- Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails
- Be particularly wary of cashier’s checks that appear to come from a Canadian bank or another country.
- If a cashier’s check is suspicious, call the issuing bank to verify it. Do not use information printed on the check to contact the bank, instead ask your bank or telephone directory assistance for help in locating the legitimate phone number.
- If accepting a personal check or cashier’s check of which your are suspicious, consider asking the giver to put their thumbprint on the check itself. This will help law enforcement later if the check turns out to be bogus.
- Safeguard your account numbers. Guard your checks closely. If you must store old checks, do so safely. Never just throw away old checks, always burn or shred them.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately
- Guard your ATM PIN and ATM receipts. Shred old cards and receipts.
- Use OVB Bill Pay to eliminate paper bills coming to your mailbox. These bills often include account numbers. Stealing mail is a common method that scammers use to steal your identity.
- Remember, if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is a scam. Be skeptical if you are told that you won a sweepstakes or foreign lottery. Be cautious in every financial deal you make.
- Did you respond to an email requesting you to confirm, update or provide your account information?
Report Fraud To FDIC
Information about counterfeit items, cyber-fraud incidents and other fraudulent activity may be forwarded to the FDIC’s Cyber-Fraud and Financial Crimes Section, 550 17th Street, N.W., Room F-4004, Washington, D.C. 20429, or transmitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.