Fake check scams are an epidemic, says Better Business Bureau

Investigators

APEX, N.C. (WNCN) — Billions of dollars in fake checks circulate every year appearing to come from real companies, but they only thing real about them is the losses to consumers who fall for the scam.

It begins with a check sent to you for money you weren’t expecting.

In the case of an Apex teen, she was sent a check for $1,560 dollars to pay for a dress that was being sold for $45.

The envelope containing the check includes a slip of paper asking the recipient to alert the sender by text that they have deposited the check in their account.

In a related text using poorly constructed English, the check sender says the extra money was mistakenly included in the check for her daughter’s hospital bills and it asks the recipient to return $1470 in cash along with the dress that was being sold.

The BBB says this is typical of the scam.

“It targets all age groups but we find millennials are the most targeted age group for the scam,” said Mallory Wojciechowski who is the CEO of the BBB of Eastern NC.

“Oftentimes millennials are the ones on line,” explains Wojciechowski. “They’re engaging on line and might be on classified sites or social media sites.”

The BBB calls the fake check scam an epidemic and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says it seized more than $62 Billion in fake checks since 2017.

In the case of the fake check sent to the Apex teen, the check came from a Colorado address. 

The check purported to be drawn on an Indiana bank for a Michigan based Carpet company.

The BBB says that’s a common deception with that scam.

“These checks appear very legitimate,” said Wojciechowski. A lot of the time the scam artists use a company’s logo, name and address, so when you receive it and look up the company you say, ’oh this is legitimate.’ ”

But, the fake checks bounce.

The FTC and FBI say they’ve received more than 30,000 complaints about fake checks resulting in more than $40-million in losses and the American Bankers Association says fake checks are one of the most common instruments used to commit fraud against consumers.

The biggest red flag with the check scam is the repayment request.

“When you’re asked to wire back money, that’s the biggest warning sign,” said Wojciechowski.

If you get a check like that, and you have doubts, before you ever think of cashing it, take it to a bank and have them verify it.

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