Counterfeit Check Scams

Counterfeit Check Scams Target Work-from-home Job Seekers

The holiday season has started, and with it comes a variety of expenses. To cover the cost of gifts, dinners, and more, you may find yourself seeking an additional job. The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus has made work-from-home positions more common (and more appealing), but before you accept a side-gig, beware! If you aren’t careful, you could fall victim to one of many work-from-home scams.

Claiming to be legitimate employers, fraudsters have been known to send counterfeit checks to their victims. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be aware of when you have received a fraudulent check from a work-from-home scam or other scheme.

There are always exceptions to the rules, but most situations and accounts involving counterfeit scam checks have very similar red flags and characteristics. Here are some of the red flags that the Scott Credit Union team keeps an eye out for, and you should be aware of as well:

A large check that originates outside the St. Louis & Metro East area

The majority of legitimate paychecks deposited by Scott Credit Union members are from makers located in the metro St. Louis area. Most scam checks have makers listed from outside the area, as the fraudsters are hoping to make it harder for SCU staff to verify the item with the drawee bank or business on which the check is drawn.

A marbled background

Many fraudulent scam checks have some sort of marbled background look to them. This is because people can go to stores like Walmart, Office Depot, etc. and buy boxes of generic check stock for their home or small business, and a lot of these check stocks have a marbled background. Does a marbled background always mean a check is fraudulent? No. However, these checks have been used fraudulently often enough to make financial institutions wary of the sight of marble.

An overpayment

While some members receive the counterfeit checks in the mail to deposit themselves, others will be asked by their new work-from-home “employer” to provide their mobile banking and/or online banking login credentials. Their new “employer” deposits a fraudulent check via remote deposit capture and will provide a story as to why the member needs to send back some of the funds.

Here’s one real life example: A few years ago, a Scott Credit Union member received a $2,200.04 marbled-background check from an organization in Chicago. She had been asked to deposit the check and then return to them all but $400. Luckily, our eagle-eyed SCU employees recognized that the check was part of a scam before it was too late.

In addition to looking for ways to supplement their income by finding new jobs online to work from home, many people are turning to online loans for assistance. Unfortunately, there are many fraudulent loan websites and social media posts out there.

These “lenders” are not interested in credit or payment history and often times will request your mobile banking and/or online banking login credentials. The “lender,” much like the work-from-home employer, then deposits a fraudulent check, typically via remote deposit capture, and will provide a story as to why the member needs to send back some of the funds.

While the online loans and work-from-home scams are different, it is easy to see some of the similarities in how the fraudsters operate. If you are ever concerned you are being targeted as the victim of a scam, please contact Scott Credit Union as soon as possible. Our fraud management team is here to help you.

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