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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 ftc.gov/subscribe.

211 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Coachk
February 14, 2019
I reported this to the Norwalk police department, the FTC, postal inspectors and FBI. I am not sure if this is the right department but I want to describe a situation that I have and see what you would suggest. 2 weeks ago I received a check for $3,420 to utilize in a secret shopper job that turned out to be a fraud. I have the letter that was sent the envelope it was sent in I have any kind of receipts that was utilized and I'm trying to find out what I can do. the bank that cash the check and made the funds available right away will not even give me the time of day. all the money that was in my account is now gone can I have a disability check that's going to come on February 20th and the bank will end up taking that because they cleared my account because that $3,420 check according to them they couldn't collect any funds I do not know what to do I do not know where to turn I have a 12 year old daughter and a 19 year old daughter who's in college and I have no funds What can I do!?
Don't use your…
February 27, 2019
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?
Iris
February 27, 2019
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
EVMS
March 03, 2019
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.
Smh
March 14, 2019
Beware of a company on indeed named Good Will LLC. I applied for an office assistant job and was emailed saying they already found someone but to email my resume to someone named Jane Michelle Roberts. Have me her email and everything. She then emailed me asking me to do a number of things. She claimed she was 65 and needed a personal assistant to do her errands. She offered 780 a week and health insurance and a 401k GIRL BYE. She said my first task was to buy a plane ticket for her from Toronto. She said she mad her client send me a check to deposit. Red flag. Keep in mind she’s never called or had a formal interview with me. Another red flag. Also when the check came it was In my name which was also very weird to me. Also the company on the check and the bank was real but the bank was in New York and the company was in florida -_-. Also the sticker on the USPS package had an address which I search that google showed was in the middle of the highway!! If you ever feel sketchy about a check just google all the addresses. I also googled the lady Jane that was emailing me and her name does not exist on Google and EVERYBODY ON EARTH exists on google. Try googling yourself you’ll see how much information pops up. These people are literally crazy. I never deposited that check because I knew there was no reason someone I’ve never met told me to deposit a check for over $2000. Indeed needs to do a better job of keeping scammers off their website. The worst that happened to me was that I declined two real jobs in the process. Be smart out here y’all!
jal03
March 16, 2019
Did they ask you to get multiple gift cards to pay the installers?
Kattheo
March 20, 2019
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 "mycurrencyexchange.com" 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?
JoseDon't use …
March 29, 2019
If you need to pay someone else from the check for materials via Western Union. Your scammed. Don't deposit the check. Look for the police.
iremigre
June 06, 2019
I was alerted to my fake check scam because the company name was Z, the name on the check was Y, and the name on the envelope was X. A friend or frenemy told me about a "Virtual Assistant" job. I hope she was caught and arrested. www. iremigre. com/
zlaw
April 03, 2019
What to do if the scammers keep contacting you about depositing the check? It scares me a little.
Robs
April 06, 2019
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 Thanks
Jrr
April 10, 2019
Anyone hear of a company called Xerox in Singapore?
Elevader Persona
April 10, 2019
I was selling a pair of Designer Sneakers online for $1100 and they reached out on the app and said they would pay $1300 if I held it for them. Next thing I know I receive a check for $2550 mailed from Illinois, but the envelope stamp is Georgia, and the business is Maryland, but I had already deposited then funds, The buyer asks for the amount sent over the agreed amount and I stop responding to them. I’m going to the bank and police tomorrow because now they have my name address and phone number. Plus I realize I deposited a phone check today. I sell clothes regularly and this is the first and last time I will accept a check. Lesson learned.
TwinkieWonder
April 12, 2019
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.
TW19451964
April 26, 2019
I received a $4900 check drawn on the bank of Colorado. It arrived in a 9 x 12 USPS Priority Mail envelope. It was delivered by the USPS. Inside the envelope was a check payable to me for $4900. Nothing else just the check. My personal banker said he would not accept the check if presented for deposit. I called the bank of Colorado for their take on this check. We went through all the numbers on the check. The routing numbers were correct but the rest of the numbers were bogus the check was declared fake. Had I not investigated the legitimacy of the check, deposited it in my acct and spent the money, I would end up owing my bank $4900. I hope you will publish this in your comments sections. I did tear up the check but still have the pieces along with the USPS envelope.
Flynn
June 06, 2019
I'm unemployed, and was looking for a job. But the person "hiring" me didn't even work for the company, and there was no job in the first place, first of all, and second of all, this guy used Hangouts to communicate. The guy sent me a check and told me to send most of it to an address in the form of fake money orders. I of course smelled the rat, but accepted the check anyway and decided I wasn't going to go through with the money orders and that I'd just keep the money. But the fact is, the check never went through, so IDK what the deal was. If he sent me a bad check on purpose, he sure was dumb about it because he didn't get a penny out of me. The fact is though, that I spent $200 I desperately needed. So now I have negative $200, and this guy didn't even get anything from me. This guy called *me* "uNeThIcAl" even though he didn't even deliver on his end in the first place. His email address is sm 0789292@ . Calls himself Steve Miller despite having an Indian accent.
healthcaresell…
May 06, 2019
A guy messaged me through eBay want to buy a OCT machine and wanted to pay by cashier check he send it via USPS with tracking I took to the bank and it was fake lucky the banker contacted the issuing bank the crooks number was 781-786-2663 but the fake check which was only suppose to be for 2500.00 was sent for 4050.00 watch if you get a person on eBay
Saim Siddiqui
May 07, 2019
I was trying to work as a pet sitter, so I made an account on this one app where people who needs pet sitte can text you through that app. I received a text on that app with a persons email. I emailed that person on his email and after talking to him I didn’t talk about any money but he started saying that i will send you a check I thought he was talking about after i work for him but when i got a check I went to a place to cash it out and thought that it’s an advance money and i will contact him after getting money but it was a fake check. Now he emailed me saying that I'm trying to steal his money.He have my address too so please tell me what I should do and how to prevent myself from this false accusation?
Mia Liska
May 07, 2019
Thank you for all above information. You saved my money and items. I have posted a sale online and got contacted with an interest. The scammer sent me a check with more money as the sale itself with information that it is meant to be the "moving fee" which needs to be given cash to movers who will pick up "the sale". I truly believed the transaction is OK until I saw above. Once again, thank you!
heath4333
May 22, 2019
Never! Never! I repeat Never cash a cashiers check sent to you in the mail for ANY amount of money you know that a regular job will not pay you. Especially through the mail and you can not meet this person face to face. Scams artist portraying to work for companies like telephone scammers portraying to be Publishers Clearing House asking for money for the shipping through The Federal Trade Commission, Vista Capital Partners and other names for position of Office Assistant, Vifor Phama portraying position for Customer Service Representative these scammers think they are very slick. For I have been a victim of scam, but no longer!! Be wise and smart. Nothing in this world is FREE!!!!
OldDave 223
June 19, 2019
I may be dealing with this now. They are offering me $600 a week to carry an ad for a product on my vehicle. They say they will send me a check for $3400, for me to deposit , withdraw my $600 and send the rest to the Ad installer. Then I am suppossed to rec. another check every week for $600. Sounds right, BUT! Is this one a scam? Dave
Chris
September 05, 2019

In reply to by OldDave 223

I applied for a job to wrap my car about 3 weeks after I received a check for a week in advance and the rest go to the installer to wrap my car I lost for words I deposited the check and it just sits there in my account
Jdd
September 12, 2019

In reply to by OldDave 223

I got this as well... did they ever install the ad?
KRC
June 20, 2019
i recieved a check in the mail and they didnt ask me for anything except to verify i had recieved the check they just ask me formy full name amount of check my contact email and cell number is this safe
JosephD
June 26, 2019
Hi i need help i was sent a cashiers check as payment on my car i was trying to sell, and i called the bank the bank told me that the check is a good check so i went to Wells Fargo, knowing that the check is from wells fargo so i cashed it. now the bank called me about the check and they are telling me it's a fraudulent check that a wire was done to an account and the money is fraud. the bad thing now is that when the bank told me twice that the cashiers check was good i went ahead to spend out of the money. WHAT DO YOU THINK I CAN DO because i used the money to pay my tuition and i don't know where is will get the money from. PLEASE I NEED ADVICE FAST.
Tina
July 08, 2019
I posted this dress on poshmark to be sold and this lady Inquired about it and when it was time to pay she said she’ll send a check , Norma I don’t accept checks but I needed money right then so I agreed then a few days later she emails me and says that her daughter is in the hospital and her husband sent extra funds on my check needed for medical bills , she kept emailing and emailing so I went in the bank stayed in there for a whole hour and turns out the check was fraudulent so now I know not to accept checks no excuses,
PA-Dutchie
July 09, 2019
I’d been unemployed for 7 months when I received an e-mail response to a job I supposedly submitted for with World Freight Forwarders LLC. After 4 weeks of tests and a final on cargo-related laws, regulations, etc I’d be paid $2400 by check and start this full time job. They sent info and I took and passed tests. Around the 3rd week they wanted me to use my credit card to buy Apple computers for their American business (Switzerland based company expanding into US) because there was a “shortage” and they couldn’t do it. Couldn’t help them had no credit card. They kept sending cargo terms and NGO info and I took remaining tests and the final. Spoke on the phone to their American HR/Training Director Michael Bounds. After I submitted the final to them I heard nothing and did not get a check. Do not engage with these folks if they contact you!!
Tahj K
July 22, 2019
I gave my bank card information out to someone and they got access to my account. They told me I would get $5,000 in my account once I give it to them. After I asked a lot of questions about how it works they told me there was no money needed. Eventually found out 3 days later they were writing checks and stealing money from the bank with my name and identity. I contacted the bank to shut my card off and I filed a report to the police. Lost prevention contacted me today and said that it's my fault they have my information so now either I have to pay the bank back the money or they will be contacting a different police department to take me to jail. What should I do? I don't have the money and didn't realized after that fact the person was a scammer. I'm new at having a bank card and didn't really know much how legal things can happen like this to me. I'm really not trying to go to jail for something I didn't know was happening in my account. I do have a lawyer but I wonder if there's any other way that can help me.
Hatescammers1
September 26, 2019

In reply to by Tahj K

How much did they take from the bank? I deposited a check for 3800 and now I'm worried it will be fake.
ndoudaffy
July 29, 2019
I received a check from Federal reserve bank of new York, they say I must first pay the fee.
Lauralee
August 01, 2019
If someone sends me a check for the selling price of an item I sold them and also states in our texts that they have included the money to cover shipping, is it still possible for this to be a scam? How do I know? I would hate for it to be legit and throw away a perfectly legitimate transaction.
Destroyed life
August 11, 2019
Several years ago I received a check via the us mail for a “job” I had applied to online. I used the check to pay for my rent and was waiting on the extra to buy a computer for the data entry job I thought I was hired to do. Long story short I was taken into custody. Could not afford a attorney and the public defenders office wouldn’t help much. I was charged with a felony and misdemeanor l, to this day I still have these on my record hoping to clear my name someday.
alejandra
August 22, 2019
i had this person send me a check and wanted me to send one of his people back money from that check, but i never did. i still have all of that money in my account but haven’t touched it at all? what do i do know, knowing it was fraud?
caregiver1
August 27, 2019
advice I am being offered a job as a caregiver for an elderly women, I have had only contact with the son. They are supposed to be moving from out of state this week. He has asked that i make purchases for his mother ( BP monitor, medical bed, wheelchair) before they arrive at a medical company in my area. Items are to be delivered to his new home, address was given to me. He sent a cashiers check saying the funds are from his account officer and to let him know when it has been deposited and to send a picture of the deposit slip and let him know when funds are available. I don't know what to do? should I deposit it? should I just say no and risk the job?
Catalina
August 27, 2019
Hey so i put my info and told me that they will send me a check to be a mystery shopper i am single mom of 2 dont work o tought it was legit i got the check tried cashing it out and they voided what do i do know? Tips please..
Matt
September 02, 2019
With all this information there is no solution on how to go about getting your earned money back from the scammer???
Abby
September 10, 2019
Here's a new one....Gal sent me and wants me to deposit a check for $100,000. She said it's a family business issue and she needs to hide money from her uncle. Guarantees the check is good - just go ahead and wait for all of it to clear - no problem. Then, when bank is satisfied and the money is available, just send back 1/2 of it. But here's the rub - that puts me on the hook for what - $30,000 or $35,000 in income taxes? So the feds get 1/3, I get 1/3, but she gets 1/3 TAX FREE. What could go wrong? LOL
Curious123
September 12, 2019
How do they get away with it though? If I write a bad check, the bank will come after me after the funds bounce. How do scam companies write checks, and get away with it after the funds don't clear? This just happened to my girlfriend. She got scammed.
JJ
December 27, 2019
Does this seem fishy? I replied to an add for a part time cleaning position. (Copied from email) On Wed, Sep 11, 2019, 2:11 AM Sandra Thomas wrote: Good morning I hope you are doing great today. This is Mrs Sandra, I talked with my husband and we agreed on you to work for us, I am sure that you will be very happy to hear this. You will be the one to clean our home when we arrive in the city. You are the first person that we have been talking with about this Job and I hope we can trust each other to get along. We are a very good Christian and God Fearing Family, Though we have not speak with you on phone yet but we believe it doesn't make any difference all we believe in is trust and honesty, we are having a little problem with our home phone so we are planning on getting a new Cell Phone when we arrive to the state. For now I will make sure I check my email frequently to get your message, Your Information has been sent to our Financial Officer in the US this morning and you will be receiving $4,950 Check latest on Friday morning and I will email you the Shipping Tracking Number soon as we have it in our possession. The payment will Include the money to buy Groceries /Food Stuff and some other things needed in the house before our arrival, You will be getting the foodstuffs before our arrival date, You are going to deduct your first week salary $500 + $50 for Transportation or gas fee as soon as you receive the payment and you will use the remaining funds to buy the Groceries/Foodstuff and other things needed. we are going to send you the list of what to buy as soon as you Confirmed that the payment has been received by you, Just letting you know that the Estate Agent will be giving us the Apartment address soon and the Key will be drop to you by the Agent before our arrival as soon as the Apartment is Ready so that you can drop the Groceries/Foodstuff there and keep the house clean before we arrive. You should be getting the key and the Address soon as well, We will keep you posted about it. I hope you understand everything please bear with us and again your weekly salary will be $500... I will email you the list of the things you need to buy tomorrow morning.... Please, you need to email us back to let us know that you received this message and for us to know that you really understand everything you need to do. Can't wait to meet you. Remain Blessed. Warm Regards, Mr & Mrs Thomas
Cocosweet66
September 17, 2019
Scammers are real, just received a brown envelope in the mail with a check for 3,050 for a secret shopper at the nearest Walmart. It came from Missouri.it is best to keep all your information on the names on the check, envelope and the letter.
Don't count me out
September 18, 2019
I've been through about every scam you can mention trying to save my home of 23 years .I'm disable my wife left me after getting a job on adult website in December 7. 2016 ever seen e I've been the target of seeveral different types of scams.as a matter of fact the Social Security Administraton was gone into and changed my information this month and I don't have enough money to get to social security office to straighten this out .when I called on the phone the gentleman that I spoke with wouldn't assist me but someone allowed my information to be changed on government website I've been with same bank sense the same day I received the first check from Social Security Disability .what's ironic is exwife has gotten The state she moved to to issue a divorce and there's less than 30 days for me to respond Thru a attorney .I've got documention and pretty sure whos behind the identity theif as well as hacking my nerve stimulator implant imbedded in spine at base of my skull .I've made several reports to ftc fcc hhs IRS and several other government sites .my phone setting are dimmed and I can't read most files documents and apps are blocked from my use .I've got a broken neck and there's. Not much more I'm able to do but pray someone in government simply looks at my situation .I started a online business as well received a grant to attend collage but internet was taken over new lap top was screen blocked and I wasn't allowed to access first day of classes .I've got more evidence than any one could believe 3 years worth of what's taken place .domain taken as well as everything else as well as data removed from smart phone that's all Ive got left that and my life .
FTC Staff
September 27, 2019

In reply to by Don't count me out

The federal government has a telephone hotline to help people with disabilities. You can call and ask about getting help with your Social Security account, fixing your your house, and other things.

Call 1-800-677-1116.  Call during the week, from Monday to Friday anytime 9 am to 8 pm Eastern time.

Beckah
September 20, 2019
I too received a fake check in the mail by ups for 6,000 dollars. I contacted law inforcment but they said ther was nothing they could do. I researched the company and it is an active LLC. I don't understand why they can't be charged for this. There is a actual address a name for the person and a EIN # for the business. The business has been active for several years. They deserve to be punished. But there is nothing anyone can do. Please be aware of all the different scams. Don't be fooled
gypsyangel
September 24, 2019
About 6 months ago tried to sell my car online. I put it up for 1500 and I got an email back from someone looking to buy it they said that they would give me an exstra 50 to put it on hold. That they would send me money to give to there fiend once upon picking it up. I did this cuz I’m stupid and was getting ready to move to another state. I deposited the check and everything was fine the bank didn’t hold it didn’t take it away in two days or a week and the longer it stayed the more I thought it wasn’t a scam and I can use the money. The lady told me she couldn’t send someone till the end of that month so I didn’t think anything of it till A month later the bank closed my account not notifying me and sent me the rest of the balance via mail. I didn’t know why till I got a letter in the mail requesting payment or the account will go to collections. I don’t have the money and won’t have the money any time soon and kinda freaked out and have no way of operation on this point. I honestly thought it would be alright. Does anyone have any pointers or advice
Samanthahill023
December 27, 2019
I have this check.. check under my name. But i never open that particular bank. Apparently he had told me that this company put my name on the check... so all i have to do is write the check out for myself and sign it for myself... i even called the bank and that bank doesn't have my Social Security number, But its under the company account. Can a bank put a name on someones check book without the information? What should i do?
Trish
September 27, 2019
I joined offeritup and posted a tractor for $550. Immediately a guy wants me to hold it for extra $50. Unti he could arrange shipping. Eventually asked what moving co, where's it going. "I'm sending you extra money to Arrange moving it". How much $2100. How would they know amount of money to send with no moving company set up. I get check, looks fake. Misspelled words. A bit crooked. Here's the weird part. I took to my bank and they called bank on check and was told it's a good check. Called a 2nd branch and received same response. When calling the branches they were both answered in person, no automated system. Can scammers make a banks website? Take phone calls....
JP54
September 26, 2019
I received an “official check” from discover bank for $10. Referenced an account I did not have. The check looks very professional, water marks and all. I assume this has to be some kind of scam. Have you heard of this one before?
msvbody2015
September 27, 2019
Valencia I received an email from my college, and it was a post about a job as an assistant to a Dr. Abdul Haroon. Well long story short he mailed me a check for 3550.00 and wanted me to put it in my account. I was already skeptical about the check. The Bank is River City Bank in Sacramento,Calif. Please be careful
Rover app
September 30, 2019
The scammers on rover are laughable. If you can’t call them back they are fake
amam
September 30, 2019
I recently fell victim to this and did not realize the bank wouldn’t catch a bad check. When I sent the money back for a refund it said my bank declined the charge. I called my bank after I found out it was a scam and had them remove the check from my account and they say no money has gone through the app I used but I am still worried they will take money out of my account.