MoneyMoments | MidFirst Bank
Counterfeit Check Scam

Counterfeit Check Scam

Counterfeit check scams vary, but the basic premise includes two constant elements: a counterfeit check and a wire transfer. The victim is instructed to deposit the check into his bank account. Before the bank is notified the check is counterfeit, the scammer asks the victim to send a wire transfer, gift card or money app payment for a portion of the check amount. The scam exploits the rule that a wire transfer cannot be rescinded, so when the check is returned as counterfeit, it is debited from the victim’s bank account, leaving him responsible for the loss.

Fraudulent Check Infographic

Below are common variations of this scam:

Internet-based Auction Sales

An overseas buyer or winning bidder pays with a cashier’s check in an amount greater than the sale amount. Various reasons for the overpayment are given, including foreign banking issues or fees for escrow or shipping services. The seller is instructed to wire the remaining funds to a fictitious shipping company or back to the buyer. The check is later returned as counterfeit, leaving the victim responsible for the amount wired.

Internet-based Job Opportunities with a Bonus

A fraudulent “work-from-home” overseas employer claims to have U.S. banking difficulties and asks the new employee to facilitate processing a check from a U.S.-based vendor. The new employee is instructed to deposit the check, keep a portion as a bonus, and wire the remaining funds to the employer. The vendor’s check is counterfeit, and the scam is discovered after the employee’s bank tries to collect from the overseas account.

Mystery Shopping Jobs

Many reputable companies hire mystery shoppers to evaluate their service by posing as customers. Unfortunately, most mystery shopping opportunities found on the Internet are scams. A fraudulent mystery shopper employer hires an employee to evaluate a wire service company by sending a wire and completing an online evaluation form. The employee receives a check with instructions to keep a portion as payment and wire the rest to the employer. The employer applies pressure to perform the “job” within two days to ensure the wire is sent before the check is discovered to be counterfeit.


One of the most well-known payment fraud scams is the lottery or inheritance scam. Victims receive a letter or email informing them they have won a lottery or sweepstakes prize, or a distant relative left them an inheritance. The victim receives a check to cover taxes or processing fees and is instructed to wire the amount to the fraudster in order to receive the full amount of the winnings/inheritance. The victim finds out the check is fraudulent after the wire is sent.

Bogus Check Scam Protection Tips

The key to protecting yourself from bogus check scams is simple: NEVER WIRE MONEY TO SOMEONE YOU DO NOT KNOW.
  • Be skeptical when accepting checks from a stranger; even cashier’s checks can be counterfeited.
  • Don’t let impressive corporate names, official certifications, or unusual buyer circumstances lull you into a false sense of security in the pursuit of “easy” money.
  • Remember, if a job involves sending money to your employer, it’s probably a scam.

Recent Posts
Recent Posts
Online Purchase Scams

Online Purchase Scams

Internet classified and auction sites make shopping easy for buyers, sellers and unfortunately, scam artists. Most purchase scams involve a

Loan Scams

Loan Scams

The guarantee of a loan, regardless of your credit history, is a sure sign of a scam. Legitimate lenders review your credit report and validate the information in your application before making a loan decision.

Woman wearing glasses using her phone

Relationship and Empathy Scams

Scammers use emotional triggers, like love, compassion, and trust, to lower a victim’s defenses and entice them to provide money