YOU ARE LIABLE FOR COUNTERFEIT
CHECKS DEPOSITED INTO YOUR ACCOUNT
Is someone you met on the Internet sending you a
cashier's check or
business check to pay for something you have sold them?
BEWARE!!!!!!!! You will be liable if you withdraw money from your
account that is backed by this check and it turns out to be counterfeit
of whether or not you, too, are a victim. Some victims have even
been charged criminally when the check turned out to be counterfeit as
the police and prosecutor claimed they knew what they were doing when
they did it - even though they had proof of e-mails, phone calls and
documented lies from the thief. AND to add insult to
injury, the real thief was never charged or even investigated because of
the difficulty of going across state, and sometimes, national
If you received a counterfeit check
from Nigeria or another foreign country, your situation will be
different from a victim who received a check from a person
living in the U.S.
For information on this
situation, go to CUFF's Nigerian
Consumer education about check fraud is
not keeping up with the scammers: Phony
Check Scams on Rise -
to verify a cashier's check and money order
is a Nigerian 419 Letter?
Nigerian Scam Letter Database
Beware of Banking Check Fraud
Laws- Con artists know the laws -
You better know them, too.
from PayPal: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraudulent E-Mails
from an Financial Writer on How to Avoid Online Fraud
of Justice - Internet Fraud Information
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM AN
UNKNOWN CHECK WRITER
Ask your bank how long they need to hold the check before they can
guarantee that it is good, then triple that time. If you call the originating bank to
confirm funds in the account, you may be told there is sufficient money
in the account. BUT DO NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION ALONE.
If the check is counterfeit because it has been forged or written on a
computer generated check that duplicates the account information, it
will eventually be returned to your account as a forgery. If it
does come back, you should immediately
file a complaint with law
enforcement. And don't count on anyone, including the USPS, to
tell you a money order is good as it may have been washed and is
not yet registered as fraudulent.
to verify a cashier's check and money order
FILE A COMPLAINT WITH LOCAL LAW
Jurisdictions vary as to reporting
protocol. First, report the fraud to your local police. If
they direct you to the jurisdiction where the thief reportedly lives,
then report the crime to that jurisdiction. If you are not sure
where the thief lives and you want to research it in order to provide
law enforcement with the information, CUFF will research it for you:
Identifying the Thief
The U.S. Secret Service
investigates counterfeit check fraud, so you should also report
the crime to this agency. If the check came by mail or
wire, you should report it to the Postal Inspection
Service. However, the federal minimum threshold for fraud
investigation is reportedly now at the six-figure level.
So, there is a possibility that your case will not even be
Even if this is the case, you should
still report your crime to all the appropriate agencies because
it will put the thief in the system. Eventually, if enough
victims file charges against the same person or company, the
chances are much greater that an investigation will be
initiated. And it also increases the crime statistics for
fraud, which is necessary to attract the attention of the
legislators who fund law enforcement agencies.
WHERE TO REPORT INTERSTATE FRAUD AND
Postal Inspection Service - File a mail fraud complaint -
If the check was sent through the mail, file a
complaint with the U.S.
Postal Inspection Service.
Federal Government Site Listing Federal Fraud Reporting
- Fraud Reporting Agency Sponsored by National and
International Law Enforcement Agencies
Secret Service - The Secret Service
handles bank fraud issues such as counterfeit check fraud.
VICTIMS - Report fraud in Canada to Phonebusters.com
Economic Crime Online - Canada
KINGDOM VICTIMS - Report fraud to Scotland Yard
SCAMS - Nigerian scam solicitations that come by e-mail should be forwarded to the FTC at
Many of these scams will
send a counterfeit check to the victim to pay for whatever items are
If you are the victim of financial fraud originating in
Nigeria or outside the U.S., you will want to view the
page on Nigerian Scams.
Phone Number and Web Site Form for Contacting Nigerian
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
POLICE - Take
the check to your local law enforcement jurisdiction and
file a police report.
*DATING SITES, AUCTION SITES, MESSAGE
you met the scammer on a dating site, auction site or on
a message board, contact the Web master or customer
and provide the e-mails you received, if requested, to
verify the scammer's e-mail address,
screen name, IP
address, phone number, etc.
DOCUMENTS YOU SHOULD PROVIDE IN THE
Keep all documents you received from and sent to the thief, including
photocopies of the front and back of the counterfeit check, all e-mails
from the thief, including headers, all letters, wired documents,
etc. If the thief gave you a cell phone number or land line
number, provide that information to law enforcement along with all the
other documents. If you are not sure how to read the e-mails or
need additional assistance, contact fraudaid.com.
instructions on how to write an effective fraud report.
If you need assistance in identifying and locating the person who
sent you a fraudulent check, CUFF will provide the research for
$59.00. Complete the Fraud
Report order form. It is possible that the person who
defrauded you has also defrauded others in a similar scam. By
providing law enforcement with the fraudster's identity and
location, it will simplify the case for law enforcement and
encourage them to act quicker than they might otherwise. You
should be aware, however, that if you were defrauded by someone
living outside the U.S., the chances are very slim that federal law
enforcement agencies will investigate unless the losses meet the minimum
Because drug-related and violent crime are
consuming most of law enforcement's resources, fraud is being
pushed to the back of the line. If that's where they put
your case, don't give up. You should still file a police
report and report the crime to the federal agencies noted above,
even if your case is not investigated. Fraud is the most
under-reported of all crimes because the victims feel
embarrassment for their "willing" participation.
This is one of the reasons that it is not investigated with the
kind of vigor that would eventually make a difference. You
should report your crime even if it is only added to the crime
statistics. Eventually, legislators and law enforcement
will recognize that it has reached an epidemic level and
will begin to take it seriously.
When CUFF researches
your case, if we uncover an outstanding warrant for the person, we
will publish the information for free in the CUFF
Fugitive Database so
others can help with the search. If
you already know that the person has an outstanding
warrant or criminal history, you
the person to the CUFF Fugitive Database
for free. This database is not
searchable on the Internet until CUFF verifies the warrant and
your personal information will not be given to anyone unless you
authorize it. When it is published, anyone can search the
database for free using 48 different search criteria, including
the subject's physical description, aliases, background
information and keywords.
If our research uncovers
a criminal history or recorded civil judgments, we will publish this
information in the CUFF
Fugitive Database also.
can also submit the person to the
which is a
proprietary database that is not searchable on the Internet but
is used by CUFF to match names and MO's of swindlers in order to
provide information to law enforcement. CUFF matches each submission with con artists
already in the database to see if the person has been entered
already. If so, we will send you the e-mail address of the other victim(s)
and allow you to discuss your frauds, if you choose. If
information is produced which substantiates a pattern of fraud, CUFF
will provide a free background search on the con artist and begin an
investigation to determine whether or not there might be evidence to
convince law enforcement to charge the person with fraud.
If you don't believe the criminal justice system is equipped to
handle the growing epidemic of fraud, join
America's fastest growing grassroots anti-fraud movement that is
working to change the laws and social attitude which have
contributed to the laxity in prosecution.
CHARGED CRIMINALLY AS THE VICTIM
If you are charged criminally after
depositing an unknown counterfeit check into your checking
account, you are not alone. More and more victims across
the U.S. are being charged criminally for their gullibility in
receiving checks sent by strangers they met on the
Internet. If this happens to you, you will need an
attorney who understands the full operation behind a Nigerian
Scam. Do not think the charges will be dropped if you just
explain yourself to the judge. Do not think you are not
being viewed as a criminal by the police, the D.A. and even your
attorney if the person is not familiar with this kind of
scam. You must take this seriously, get an attorney and
for guidance on the steps to
follow to justice.
Ask your bank to place a warning about counterfeit checks at all
tellers' windows to protect uninformed customers and to protect
the bank from losses that are resulting from the victims'
inability to repay the lost funds.
Bank recently published a brochure on
Counterfeit Check Fraud that is available in its
a jpg of the brochure, print it and take it to your bank manager
Union announced in November 2005 that it will begin to post
prominent warnings to its customers about the use of wire
transfers in telemarketing fraud.
is what Western Union's official warning looks like in the
United Kingdom. You don't send money without signing this
you lose money through an Internet scam, the chances of getting
your money back are akin to getting your television back after
an unknown burglar steals it from your home while you are away
on vacation. It happens only in the rarest of
circumstances and what happened to this victim is typical: Good
Samaritan Loses $18,000 in Nigerian Scam.
However, you do have some options if the criminal lives in the
First, you can pursue
criminal charges through the proper agency, and if this happens
and the thief is convicted, you can ask for restitution as part
of the sentencing. Depending on the state and county, the
thief may remain on probation until the money is repaid.
Second, you can sue the person in
court in order to obtain a civil judgment. This judgment
will allow you to have the thief's personal property seized, his
bank account levied and his paycheck garnisheed. This is a
very good option if the thief is employed and has assets.
Unfortunately, the majority of the people who scam do not have
stable employment or assets.
if you do not know the true identity of the subject, you can try to sue the person
using a John Doe for the defendant's name. You would need to
provide all the e-mails, letters, wire transfers, etc. that show you do
not know who the person really is but that you have a clear basis for
your civil claims. Your purpose is not to file for a judgment
initially but to obtain a subpoena for the ISP and e-mail providers of
the unknown fraudster in order to obtain the person's name and
address. It is also possible to subpoena eBay and PayPal for
information they have on the person's true identity if the fraudster
used their services in the fraudulent transaction. This is the legal
process used to obtain the identities of the unknown
defendants in the music download trials and by large corporations such
as Microsoft to sue Web site owners for spam.
If you obtain a judgment
against someone, you can hand it over to a judgment recovery
specialist, which is a collector who goes after judgment
debtors. This person will have a financial motivation to
find your money, and the fee you pay, which is generally 30% to
50% of the money collected, may be worth it. 50% of
something is better than 100% of nothing. AND you will
have obtained justice because the thief will have had to give
back the stolen money.
An additional disadvantage of suing
civilly is that a judgment is only valid in the county and/or
state where it was issued. In order for it to be
recognized in another county and/or state, it must be filed as a
foreign judgment. Often this means the case must be heard
by a judge in the county where it is being filed as a foreign
judgment. If it was a default judgment, the chances are
even better that the count will not rubber stamp it without
hearing the case.
To see an overview of what is available
to a plaintiff in a small claims court suit, go to CUFF's Get
Even Legally Page.
Review the links and information
above and if you feel you still need
additional help or have questions, contact CUFF in the Contact
form. Do not e-mail us as we
may not open an e-mail if we do not recognize the sender.