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What is a check scam?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Checks might not get as much use in California as they did a few decades ago, but many scammers still use fake checks to steal money from unsuspecting people. These types of scammers prey on the fact that many people don’t know how the banking system works. Here’s how your typical fake check scam operates.

How do fake check scams operate?

The scam starts by sending you a check in some way. The scammer might claim that they bought something of yours from an online store, but they accidentally paid too much and need you to return the money. They could also claim that they’re offering an exciting new job opportunity. You can keep most of the money in the check, but they just need you to use some of the funds to buy money orders or gift cards. At the time, it sounds like a great deal.

When you cash the check, the money typically appears in your account a day or two later. This lulls people into a false sense of security. What many people don’t realize is that it can take banks several days to detect a fraudulent check, and by that time, the scammer already has your money.

Once the bank discovers that the check was fake, they’ll withdraw that money from your account. But since you already sent part of the money to the scammer, that amount is simply gone from your finances. You might even end up with overdraft fees.

To avoid a fraudulent check scam, you should never cash a check if you don’t know who sent it. If you receive a check from a stranger who claims to be offering you a job opportunity, it’s probably fake. Most employers won’t send you a paycheck before you’ve done any work. Check fraud is illegal according to criminal law, so you might be able to seek legal action.

What if you’re accused of writing a fake check?

On the other hand, if someone accuses you of check fraud, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney could defend you against false charges and prove that you weren’t engaged in criminal activity.