Counterfeit checks: What you should look out for!

May 20th, 2011 at 11:56 am by under 10 On Your Side, Scam Alert

We receive calls and emails everyday from people who have received letters and phone calls from someone who claims the person has won an international lottery, that there is money waiting for them in a foreign bank account from a relative who recently passed away or that they have won the grand prize at a local department store. More often than not, these letters and phone calls are the work of a con artist who is trying to scam consumers out of their hard earned money.

How the scam works: Once the would-be prize winner deposits the “check” into their bank account, they are asked to withdraw a portion of the money and send it back to the con artist. Once the money is withdrawn, the check doesn’t clear the bank. The bank account is then emptied in an effort to cover the withdraw.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) occasionally sends out tips consumers should look for so they don’t get scammed. Recently the BBB released a list of tips consumers can use to determine if a check is counterfeit.
1. Edges. Legit checks generally have at least one perforated or rough edge.
2. Bank logo. There should be a logo and it shouldn’t be faded.
3. Bank address. A bank wouldn’t use just a post office box. 
4. Check number. There should be a check number in the upper right hand corner and it should match the check in the MICR line. The MICR line is at the bottom of the check and has the bank routing number and the check number.
5. Amount. It’s usually less than $5,000 so that the bank sends the “check” through in a few days. Larger checks have a longer holding time.
6. Paper. Fake checks are usually printed on lighter paper and could feel slippery.
7. Signature. Does the signature look digitized? Are there numerous up and down strokes? It could indicate the signature was printed from a scanned original or was forged.
8. MICR line. Magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) numbers are read by specialized checking-sorts machines. The ink should look and feel dull, not shiny.
9. Routing numbers. You can verify these numbers by going to Federal Reserve Financial Services. There should be nine numbers and they identify what bank issued the check.

One thing to keep in mind, if you cash a counterfeit check, you are responsible for the money drawn from that deposit. Remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

**Source: BBB of Southern Colorado and Sid Kirchheimer author of “Scam Proof Your Life”**

I recently received a copy of a counterfeit check from a viewer. Here’s a scan of the check:

While this check has the logo, the routing number and the check number, if you take a look at the address for the bank listed, this check breaks Rule #3. Also, did you notice the “VOID” watermark that showed up in the scanned image… sneaky, huh???

2 Responses to “Counterfeit checks: What you should look out for!”

  1. Amy says:

    I had this happen to me a few years ago. The company Whirlpool was used on the actual check! I called the FBI, and was directed to send them the check and letter sent to me.

  2. Frances King says:

    If you don’t know the “relative” who died then they most likely didn’t “leave” you money, especially if you haven’t ever been to the “rain forrest” If you didn’t “buy” a National Lottery ticket, you would have a hard time being the “winner”. If you didn’t know, didn’t play, didn’t enter, didn’t shop. YOU DIDN’T WIN. If scammed you should have had your eyes open and if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be responsiable.

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