Many people fall victim to fraudulent check scams. Contrary to what one might think, it is not easy to recognize a fraudulent check versus a legitimate check. Some fraudulent checks are so good that even bank employees can’t tell the difference.

This difficulty is what leads fraudsters to commit numerous scams using fraudulent checks. Some of the most common scams include mystery shopper scams, phony prize money awards, online classified ad scams, including popular sites and applications such as Craigslist and Offer Up, and fraudulent advertisements for employment. According to John Breyault, with the National Consumers League’s Fraud.org website, the key thing that binds these scams together is the use of fraudulent checks. The consumer is instructed to deposit the fraudulent check into their personal account and then send a portion of the proceeds to someone immediately.

Most fraudsters instruct the victim to send money via a wire transfer service such as Money Gram or Western Union. A newer trend, that has emerged locally, instructs the victim to place the money onto a prepaid debit card or iTunes gift card that allows the fraudster to make immediate purchases. This all occurs before the bank ever discovers the check to be fraudulent. This could take days or weeks. The fraudster has their money and the victim is left with the bank removing the fraudulent deposit from their account.

Based on how many victims are targeted by the scam and the average amount lost by the victim, the Better Business Bureau released a list of the Top 10 Most Risky Scams. Fraudulent check scams came in at number 2. This analysis discovered that the average loss to a victim of a scam is around $250 while the average loss to a victim of a fraudulent check scam is close to $1500.

For more information on fraudulent check scams or questions about other types of scams contact Waxahachie Police Department Detective Kyle Ranton, CFE at 469.309.4410 ext. 4439 or kranton@waxahachiepd.org