Imagine getting a check in the mail claiming that you’ll get part of prize winnings. Or someone responds to your Craiglist job seekers’ posting, offering you a large sum of money to complete simple tasks at home.
Or maybe someone claiming to be from a government agency says that you’re owed an extra tax refund or a free grant. Once you cash the check, all you have to do is wire back a small fee, or send back a smaller check of your own.
The rest of the money is yours. Easy, right?
Watch out! Fake check scams are incredibly common, especially by snail mail. If you become a victim, there could be wide-ranging consequences for your privacy and financial future.
Read more to learn about how scams with checks are conducted and how to avoid becoming the victim of a fake check scam.
Fake checks often arrive in the mail, claiming to be from a lottery or part of a loan. People often have sophisticated ways of conducting scams with checks, and that $30,000 check just might look highly convincing, even to a trained eye!
Fake checks have even sometimes been known to fool bank tellers and check-cashing mobile apps on occasion, so it’s no wonder that fake check scams continue to be popular.
After you cash the check, your bank might even allow you access to the money they think you received.
But suddenly, the person or company who supposedly sent the check wants you to pay some of it back for a finder’s fee, a refund, or to compensate for differences in overseas currency.
Never send any money, whether through PayPal, Venmo, wire transfer, cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, or a check of your own, to an entity you don’t know. Most likely, they are asking for the money as part of a check scam.
Depositing a fake check and then sending more money to the sender can have major consequences. First of all, a scammer can use the fake check scam to get crucial information about you and scam you again in the future or steal money from your account. Secondly, you’re unlikely to ever see any of that money again.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, law enforcement officials or your bank might think you are involved in money laundering. If you are confused about the legitimacy of a check you’ve received, go to www.consumerfed.org/fakecheckscams for more information.
You can also ask your bank for help in determining a check’s legitimacy.