The amount of counterfeit checks (cheques) being circulated via various Internet scams, and even the classifieds (paper media) is on the rise.

A new trend is also being seen, where people are getting these counterfeits items in the mail (unsolicited). Some of us, who watch this closely, suspect they are data mining information off job sites, like Monster.com and Craigs List.

Last April, I did a post about a Better Business Bureau (BBB) employee, who got a lot of negative attention after she accepted a job to cash bogus intruments and send the money overseas.

Common scams in which these checks are sent for someone to cash and wire the money back to fraudsters are the check cashing (job), lottery, auction, secret shopper, romance and Nigerian letter varieties.

According to the National Consumers League, counterfeit checks schemes rank near the top of the scams reported to them by victims.

High quality counterfeit money orders and travelers/gift cheques are making the Internet fraud scene, also. In the recent past, these have included Postal Money Orders, Travelers Express (MoneyGram) Money Orders and most recently, American Express Gift Cheques.

The NCL has an interesting page on their site about the most prevalent scams reported to them in 2007, here.

And don’t expect the bank to tell you (whether or not) a check is good. Since they have no liability in the matter, they will often say the item is good, give you provisional (temporary) credit, then take the money away from you when it is determined to be a fraud.

Here is a previous post about how this occurs:

Don’t Trust a Bank to Tell You Whether a Check is Good, or Not

Some of these scams direct you to places like Walmart to cash the item, and wire the money back to them, also. I’ve had readers leave comments and send me e-mails about getting arrested after attempting to pass one of these items at Walmart.

Before we smear Walmart, consider that with the amount of these items in circulation, its getting harder and harder to determine, who is and who is not, really a victim.

Check fraudsters are now posing as victims, and are scamming the scammers by cashing the items. If they are caught, they claim to be innocent victims.

I’ve personally spoken to a few of these alleged victims, and for some reason; they never seem to have wired (or sent) any of the money back?

Interestingly enough, the scammers love to direct people to Walmart (probably because they cash checks and wire money), but they could care less if you get arrested.

The bottom line is that even if the check is initially considered good, it can easily return, and the person passing it is held responsible.

Deb Radcliff (cybercrime author) did an interesting blog post about how law enforcement, and the companies having their brands used on these checks aren’t going after the cuplrits, here.

Unfortunately, they normally don’t have much to go on, and the crime is normally initiated from a foreign country.

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