BEWARE! Don't Be the Victim of a Check Deposit Scam!
Fake Check Scams are on the Rise
There has been an alarming increase in check scams, with new variations cropping up to trick even the sharpest consumers. The key ingredient is that someone offers to send you a check, cashier’s check or money order that is in excess of the amount you require. There is always an overpayment. Then they ask you to wire transfer some or all of the money out of your credit union account or use a money transfer service such as Western Union®.
Employment Scams are targeting everyone – Especially Young Adults
Employment scams generally start with a too-good-to-be-true offer—work from home and earn thousands of dollars a month, no experience needed—and end with folks being out of a ‘job’ and out of money. They generally follow one of the following patterns:
1. Scammers pose as a new ‘employer’ and send victims a check to cover up-front expenses, like supplies. Victims deposit the check, buy the necessary supplies and wire any remaining funds back to the scammer. Days or even weeks later, they find out the checks are fake and they’re on the hook for the entire amount.
2. Scammers pose as ‘recruiters’ making offers of guaranteed employment or as ‘employers’ extending job offers on the condition that victims pay up front for things like credit checks or application or recruitment fees. Victims pay, but job offers never materialize.
3. Scammers pose as ‘company’ representatives and seek sensitive personal and/or financial information from victims under the guise of doing credit or background checks. They then target victims later on for identity theft.
Here's how the Scam Usually Happens
Individuals using fake check scams usually look for victims by scanning newspaper and online advertisements for people listing items for sale. They check postings on online job sites from people seeking employment. They place their own ads with phone numbers or email addresses for people to contact them. THEY CALL, TEXT AND SEND THOUSANDS OF EMAILS OR FAXES TO PEOPLE RANDOMLY, HOPING SOMEONE WILL RESPOND. They win your confidence by presenting checks that look like they're from legitimate individual or business accounts.
The credit union may learn, after you withdraw or wire the money from your account, that the check you were given was fraudulent. At this time the check will be returned to the credit union unpaid and the full amount of the check will be deducted from your account. Because you are responsible for the checks you deposit, you, the victim of these scams are left to repay the credit union the money you withdrew against the bad check.
The scam usually works because under federal law, financial institutions make the funds you deposit available quickly – usually within one to five days, depending on the type of check. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn't mean the check is good, even if it's a cashier's check. It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered and the check to be returned.
What Can You Do?
Don't get involved in any sale where the buyer wants you to accept a check for an inflated amount and refund the overage. There are usually no legitimate reasons for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back.
- If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier's check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or a bank that has a branch in your area.
- Ignore requests to pay certain "fees" to process lottery winnings or to increase your chances of winning.
- Whatever the set-up, the bottom line is if someone you don't know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire money back, it's probably a scam.
Don't deposit it – report it!
If you believe you have been the victim of or are currently being solicited by a fraudster, contact your local police department immediately.
If you believe you have recently deposited a fraudulent check, please contact Memphis City Employees Credit Union at 901-321-1200.
Western Union® is a trademark owned by The Western Union Company, registered in the United States and many foreign countries