Counterfeit Check Scam

by Richard Alderman

The latest consumer scam involves an interesting combination of legal issues, cutting across payment systems and consumer law. The scam takes many forms and is very widespread, but basically involves a counterfeit cashier’s check.

Thief gives consumer a large cashier’s check, telling consumer to cash it, keep a part for himself, and send the rest to the thief. It is often used in connection with automobile sales or apartment rentals. For example, thief will appear in town to rent and apartment saying he just moved from another city. [This also is often done by mail from a foreign city] Thief agrees to pay a large deposit with a cashiers check, representing “all the money I took from my account when I closed it to move here.” Thief asks the landlord to “cash the check to pay for the deposit, keep what he is entitled to, and send me a personal check for the rest.” The same scheme works if the consumer is selling a car or engaging any transaction involving a large sum of money. It also is used in a slightly different form for “work at home” schemes.