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Beware of Fake Checks

You have responded to a work-at-home offer in which you will be an account manager for a foreign company, depositing checks from its U.S. customers. It seems simple: You deposit the checks, take your pay out of them, and send the remainder to the foreign company. Or . . . you have reason to believe you have won a sweepstakes or lottery prize. You receive a check for your winnings, with instructions to cash it, then return a portion of the money to cover taxes or other fees. Or . . . having sold something through a newspaper ad or online, you receive a check for much more than the purchase price. Calling it an accounting error, the buyer apologizes for the mistake and asks that you return the excess amount.

If these scenarios activate your fraud antennae, there is a good reason for that. Each is a typical example of circumstances in which people are victimized by fake checks. This is a growing problem, perhaps because of the ways in which strangers are brought together for transactions by new technologies and the Internet.

Of course, the sting from the scam occurs when the victim deposits the check he receives, then withdraws funds and sends off money or merchandise before his bank discovers that the deposited check is fraudulent. Even when the bank is vigilant, that discovery could take days, or even weeks. Your first reaction might be to blame the bank, but, generally, the depositor is on the hook, as he is considered to have taken responsibility for the funds spent or sent before the fraud is discovered.

If there is a single best piece of advice for not becoming a victim, it is to accept no check if it is accompanied by a request that you return some of the money. But if the worst happens, and you have reason to believe that you have been had by the writer of a fake check, contact your bank and the local office of the FBI.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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