Cashier’s check fraud is a common type of scam often targeting elderly citizens. A cashier’s check is one that is issued and guaranteed by a bank. They are commonly required for real estate and brokerage transactions. Because cashier’s checks are generally deemed safe, scammers use them to trick innocent people into cashing them. They may ask their victims to wire them money or send them goods in return. When a scam victim cashes a check that turns out to be counterfeit, the bank reverses the deposit from their account. If a victim innocently spends that money, they will be out that money as well as any funds they sent to the scammer.
Unfortunately, scams are becoming more common, and people need to be wise to them. If anyone who you do not know and trust randomly sends you a cashier’s check, that is fair warning of a scam. Additionally, high-quality printers and scanners make it easy for scammers to create counterfeit checks that contain real account and routing numbers with watermarks that appear authentic. Often, it takes time for the forgery to be discovered. Thus, it is especially important for people to be aware and report any unusual activities to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Scammers often look for victims on places such as Craigslist, Facebook, and Marketplace, for example. Scams often involve fake stories or incidents to gain the victim’s trust. In one example, a good person was selling an antique clock. The buyer (the scammer) asked the seller (the victim) to provide their personal information for printing a cashier’s check. The buyer sent the cashier’s check to the seller for a higher amount than the item cost. The buyer made up a story about how they accidentally overpaid. The buyer then asked the seller to refund the excess amount, hoping that the seller sends money before discovering that the check was a fake.
Cashier’s checks that arrive in the mail often look legitimate. They are generally accompanied by a letter offering an explanation. Recipients may be tricked into thinking they received an inheritance, won a prize, or lottery. They are then told that they must claim their prize but first pay taxes or fees to get it. Or it may be a work-related scam offering a starting bonus. Victims are asked to cover some fees up front as well. If you doubt the validity of a check you receive, do not attempt to cash it. It is best to call or visit your bank to discuss your suspicions and allow your bank to evaluate and investigate the situation.
A few things to remember – if you get a random cashier’s check from a stranger, it is a red flag that it’s a fake. Just because it looks real doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. It is best to not accept cashier’s checks from people you do not know. If you are selling something online, avoid cashier’s checks and never accept more money than is due. Sellers should also use safer means for online transactions, such as PayPal or credit card options. If someone tries to scam you, or you fall victim to fraud, contact the FTC promptly. This is the federal government’s website where you can report fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Not only might reporting benefit you, but it also boosts awareness and protects your community. Folks can also stay educated on scams and offer to assist elders who require help to safeguard their finances.