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Anatomy of a fake check scam

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Fake checks drive many types of scams – like those involving phony prize wins, fake jobs, mystery shoppers, online classified ad sales, and others. In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check – sometimes for several thousand dollars and usually for more than what you are owed – and wire some of the money back to that person. The scammers always have a good story to explain the overpayment – they’re stuck out of the country, they need you to cover taxes or fees, you need to buy supplies, or something else. But by the time your bank discovers you’ve deposited a bad check, the scammer already has the money you sent, and you’re stuck paying the rest of the check back to the bank.

The Federal Trade Commission receives tens of thousands of reports each year about fake checks. Over the last three years, the number of complaints has steadily increased, and so have the dollars lost.

The FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation, offers some tip-offs to rip-offs and what to do if you get a check from someone you don’t know.

Please share this information with others. Victims may be embarrassed to talk about their experiences, but you can help. A simple phone call, email or text, saying “Look what I just found” and sharing this information may make a difference in someone else’s life.

Want to avoid the latest rip-offs? Sign up for free consumer alerts from the FTC at


"If it seems too good to be true"...know that you are responsible for anything you deposit into your account. If something seems questionable, ask your banker or for the advice of your bank's fraud department. Be honest about where you got the check, who you got it from, if it came with a letter, etc. before having it deposited into your account. Unfortunately, they often target individuals who are down on their luck or are so hard pressed for a miracle that they don't appreciate questions from the bank.

This is a deep and winding rabbit hole. Not every counterfeit check is obvious; some are very convincing reproductions using legitimate account/routing information. Banks are often victims of having their cashier's checks and money orders copied by scammers. Same with both personal and business accounts. A "cleared" check does not equal a "good" check because an account holder can come back and report an item as fraudulent after the funds have been released. Forged endorsements have a time frame of 3 years.

Other common parts of check scams including being asked to purchase gift cards and provide the card information to the culprit who sent you the check. I have even seen several cases in the past several months where the scammers ask for the individual's online banking credentials. They then use those credentials to deposit counterfeit checks via mobile deposit, take advantage of P2P money services such as Zelle that your bank my use, use your online banking to remove or change security features on your account, etc.

I received a check last week! I asked the bank if it was good and said because if it’s not I can’t afford to repay it, 2 people looked at it and said it was good!
This week I see that it was returned and that the bank is running it back through!
I pray it’s good because I don’t have that much money and I did cash it out and sent it to who it was written on behalf of.
I tried to go to the bank yesterday but all their electronics were down at all branches!
Lots of praying going into this!

I keep get things that I won a contest 50,000 up to 500,000 but I have to pay a fee

I recieved a check two days ago in the mail.

How it started: there was a job ad on local Facebook group and I applied with the link they gave me.
2 months later I wake up to a text saying I should have recieved a letter in the mail with my check valued at 3,740 and I need to purchase giftcards valued at 1,000.
I called my bank to see what to do.
They told me to deposit and wait 2 weeks without touching the money. If it’s fake, they will take out the money and I’ll be given a $4 fee.
Just don’t use the money for a few weeks that way your bank can flag that check and look out for similar ones.
Hope this helps.

Can't you just take the check to Wal-Mart and cash it?

I just received a check for $2,450.35 to participate in a advertising campaign for 'Bud Light Lime'. I am to receive $500 per week to allow them to wrap my car with a bright green Bud Light Lime display. I am to deposit the check and withdraw $1950.35 to give to the person who comes to wrap my car.

Is this a scam???

It is absolutely a scam, They will use any well known brand, Rockstar, Monster, Pepsi, and use this same scam on a lot of people, there are a limited number of companies that can apply a wrap to a car and it is not cheap or easy to do. A company like Rock Star only uses their own vehicles to wrap as well as their own employees to drive the vehicle. do not deposit the check and do not respond back to them, block the caller and they will move on.Oh another thing I might add, if you are doing a lot of online job searches, or are retired or a senior citizen you are probably a good target for this type of scam.

My son trusted a longtime friend that told him about his cousin doing a business where he would deposit a check in my son's checking account and 1/2 the money with him. My son had gone through most of his money he had saved for school and did't want to tell us or ask us for money. So he gave his checking account info to the friend's cousin who passed it on to her boyfriend. He deposited a $2500 fraudulent check and then started withdrawing money. My son's account was also linked to his dad's extra account and they made transfers out of it and completely drained both accounts. My son did a stupid thing but had no idea it was going to be a bad check or that they would be able to get to his dad's account. The bank is being really rude saying he was "involved". He has a 3.0 in college, never been in trouble or even had a traffic ticket. He made a really bad decision but he is a victim. WHAT DO WE DO??

If your son shared other personal information, like his account passwords, date of birth, or Social Security number, he could be at risk of identity theft. He can to to and click the "Get Started" button. Then, he can choose "Someone has my information or tried to use it and I'm worried about identity theft."

The bank may charge fees for bounced checks, or close his account. He could talk with the bank about how to protect his information, or open a new account.

I need to report a scam , I have already called the bank from which the check was writtin on , no such company , that is a fraud check .
for car wraps , have check did not cash it. have all of the text message and phone numbers of person , for car wrapping , you make $500.00 a week , but you also have to pay the installer , and were including his portion as well , so deposit this check send me picture of full depost slip, then I will aontact the detailer to come wrap your car , for Smirnoff vodka .

Going on the fourth time since summer. I need a remote job due to disability. I signed up with legitimate job search companies. I received job offers, they send me a check to cover needed supplies. They try to pressure me to deposit the check immediately. I inform them, as soon as I verify the check is valid, I'll be happy to go to work. They typically feign being insulted. How dare I question. Just deposit the check. I email or call the bank the funds are to be drawn from. In less than a minute, the bank knows it's fake. I used to turn this over to FBI Fraud. Privately informed not much they can do,but, keep bringing them evidence. I do enjoy making the crooks uncomfortable. Just knowing they missed what they thought would be an easy mark, almost makes the annoyance worth it. So, if anyone sends you a check, tell them you're going to have it verified.

Thanks guys for these great posts, very informative. Just got an email about a job that I never applied for, explaining how I was the best candidate to print and mail out payroll checks from home. The email went on to explain in this elaborate soliloquy how if I buy a printer n checks they would reimburse me right away. They also wanted all my information and cell phone number. This is classic check scam, and I think if you send the information they are actually selling and sharing ur name with other scammers. That's how they keep the scamming circle going with fake jobs, fake checks and owing IRS bull crap. I intend on emailing back and asking how they figure I'm right for the job if they don't even know my last name, and supposedly I applied for a job at their company, nope sorry..

Watch out for the Jiver Monster Energy drink scams. My husband cashed a cashier check for 1,970.30 and sent them 2-money orders for 750.00 dollars. Now I'm in the hole for 1,970.30. I've got to pay the bank back this money.

I got an email from Walmartsurveyagent @ gmail. com. They sent a check for over $2500 & asked that I deposit in within 24hrs. Then, go to a nearby Walmart and buy a money order & gift card. Luckily, I looked up secret shopper scams before I moved forward. Thanks to everyone one that commented on this site!

I received a check from Mercury Insurance...The return address was from Volkswagen of America Group in Auburn, Michigan..The check is supposed to be a prepayment for advertising using my car with a big sticker on it..No contact was signed. Matt Call wants me to confirm that I received the check so we can procede. I am just a little concerned if this is legit. I don't know where else to turn to find out.

I received a large check in in the mail in return for a survey and proof of gift card purchase. Should I tell somebody about this scam? If so who?

Question: I did receive a cashier's check for $1050 more than my item's amount. I realized it was a scam (even called that bank, and there were insufficient funds to cover the check), but is there anything I should do now with the check? My accountant said to tear it up; someone else suggested voiding it and returning it. (Further weirdness:The name on the check and the senders address on the FedEx envelope are not the same, and neither one is anywhere near where the 'buyer' said he lives.) Any suggestions? And fwiw, when I showed the check to my own bank, the teller said, "If this is a fake, it's the best one I've ever seen." But I'm sure it's a scam.

any one hear about field net global research checks

Anyone heard of concentrix check scam?

just got a check in the mail 2 days ago, it did not feel right the person ask me have I got the check and deposit it . Was waiting for it to clear in 24 hrs. I told him that I deposit and that it cleared. He ask me if I had cash App or Zelle App I said no he then told me to go to western Union send it to a particular person. then he change it to send it somewhere else . He kept texting me to see if I went to the nearest Western
Union. I cut my phone off he was still texting to 4:00 a.m. So I told him to stop texting me that my Bank said it is a scam. He argue with me to tell me that his bank said it cleared and I have the money . LISTEN UP CLASS IT IS A SCAM I NEVER STEPPED A FOOT OUT OF MY HOUSE TO TAKE IT TO THE BANK. NEVER WENT IT IS A SCAM. IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE YOU KNOW THAT IT IS NOT TRUE. I HOPE THIS HELP SOMEONE IT WAS FOR A CARWRAP ADVERTISEMENT FOR COCA COL!!!!!!.

Im getting scammed right now by Mount Snow Vermont for 4,972.55. They sent an email saying I had to buy some supplyes and send them pictures of what I’m buying but it seems fake. What do I do?

Unfortunately I am a victim of this. I am a college student and needed money desperately to make ends meet and I cashed the check and didn’t realize it was fake until my account went in the negatives

There is an easy way to end all check scams. Banks routinely hold funds when a large check is deposited, even from your own accounts in another bank. All banks should hold funds until they are certain the check is good, then release the funds. If the bank releases the funds and it comes back months or years later, that error should be the bank's responsibility, not the customers. If the laws are changed to force the banks to take responsibility for their poor decisions, quite quickly no bad checks will be passed.

The laws need to be updated so no funds will be released until the check is certain to be good. And that should not take that long in today's world of electronic banking.

It is a poor excuse for the bank to release funds, telling consumers that the check has "cleared", then to come back later and say it was a bad check and pull funds from the consumer's account to re-pay the bank's error.

I suppose this will soon be moot, checks are almost dead already.

Did they ask you to get multiple gift cards to pay the installers?

I'm a victim of fraud! I was job searching online and came across a work from home mystery shopper. I contacted the guy and he said everything was legal and that he bought into a franchise group of "" based in Illinois. He seemed really legit and even his Instagram had testimonials. I was duped into giving him my bank info as HE deposited fake checks and told me to wire him money back and I was to keep some funds as payment. Few days down the line and the checks bounced back as fake and now I owe the bank around $3,000. And that's when I knew it was a scam. I had no idea about scams like this until after it happened to me. The fraud dept of my bank thinks I deposited it and wont believe me. Going to a branch soon to bring this up with them and arrange a payment plan. It sucks and you feel lonely like you're the one that did a scam but were actually a victim. Scammer gets away with free money living their life and leaving you negative balance feeling depressed. Any tips before I go to the bank?

What to do if the scammers keep contacting you about depositing the check? It scares me a little.

Hello All

There is a new way people have found to send you checks , they ask to send your details to send a check and wire transfer money back to their account

They have long messages send to your email , in a way to convince you that they are True

Pls dont get lured by them


I received a check for $4000.00 from SunTrust bank (no address on check), but it looked official. No company name. The return address on the Priority Mail envelope was someone I did not know. There was nothing with the check. I was recently a victim of a work from home scam so I didn't deposit the check. Not to mention my bank account has been under attack for a couple of years. I reported the mail fraud to the USPS and reported check fraud to the FTC. I will also report it to SunTrust bank fraud dept. There is a site for the Federal Reserve where you can verify routing numbers and the routing number appears to be invalid. Scammers are getting smarter by the day so we have to be on our toes. Never cash a check you didn't earn.


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