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Attorney General Long Says Be Wary of Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scams

CONSUMER ALERT- Attorney General Long Says Be Wary of Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scams

PIERRE, S.D.–Attorney General Larry Long today alerted South Dakotans to the ongoing counterfeit cashier’s check scam. The fake cashier’s checks may appear to be authentic and even include a legitimate U.S. bank and routing number, but it is likely that it has been issued by a crook from Nigeria or another foreign country.

This is how the typical cashier’s check scam works. A legitimate seller is advertising an item over the internet, such as a car, computer or other valuable item. A “buyer,” often from a foreign country, contacts the seller about purchasing the item and states that he plans to use a cashier’s check issued from a bank in the U.S. The buyer tells the seller that he either mistakenly sent too large of a check, or that he will be sending a check for more than the purchase price. In either event, the seller is instructed to immediately wire the “balance” back to the buyer. The unsuspecting seller then deposits the cashier’s check in their bank account and wires the balance to the buyer. But then the cashier’s check turns out to be counterfeit and the seller loses the money that was wired.

“The counterfeit cashier’s check scam is so effective because of the authentic look of the check,” said Long. “These fraudulent checks look so authentic that even banks can be fooled. This scam’s success also depends on the wire transfer. Wiring money is the simplest way for a crook to steal money and it is untraceable. If no one wired money, we would have no victims.”

To ensure that you do not become a victim, follow these tips whenever you are offered a cashier’s check:

  • Never accept a cashier’s check for an amount greater than the purchase price.
  • Call the bank that issued the cashier’s check when you receive it. Locate the bank’s telephone number from a reliable source, such as directory assistance or a phone book.
  • If you receive a cashier’s check, ask your bank to verify that the check is good and discuss with them the possibility of this being a scam. 
  • Be sure to wait until you can verify the authenticity of the check prior to giving the buyer the goods. 
  • Be leery of buyers who show little interest or no concern as to the condition of items they are purchasing and are mostly worried about payment.
  • Do not wire money to an unfamiliar source, EVER—it is untraceable and you will never see the money again.

South Dakota consumers or businesses with questions or concerns about this scam should contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or http://atg.sd.gov/Consumers.aspx.