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Preventing Home Insurance Fraud In Japan: Honest Practices For Policyholders – If someone calls and asks for money, you may be suspicious. But what if the person sends you a check in advance, you cash the check, and the bank tells you that the money is in your account? Sounds like a safe transaction, especially if it’s a cashier’s check that’s worth as much as gold. Is that right? wrong Here’s what fraudsters know, but you don’t: Even when a check is credited to your account, that doesn’t mean the check is good. After a week, if the check bounces, the bank will demand the money back. You, not the scammers, will be on the hook for the funds.
It happens to tens of thousands of people every year. “Buyers” send a check for more than the full price to sellers of cars or other items on Craigslist and other online classifieds sites. “Employers” send a check to “new hires” to purchase supplies needed to work from home. Sweepstakes or lottery “winners” are given a check to pay taxes so the award can be delivered.
Preventing Home Insurance Fraud In Japan: Honest Practices For Policyholders
These are all scams involving fake checks, which are often altered versions of business checks from real companies.
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Counterfeit check fraud is a huge problem, with complaints to government agencies and consumer advocacy groups doubling in the past three years. Millions of counterfeit checks worth billions of dollars are circulated each year.
“Counterfeit check fraud is an exploding epidemic,” says Elaine Dodd, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. “More education and enforcement is clearly needed to prevent this problem.”
When someone deposits a check into an account, federal banking rules require that the bank immediately make the funds available within a day or two. But the bank also has the right to recover the money from the account holder if the check is fake. It is only when the check is returned to the bank that it is supposed to have issued that it is found to be counterfeit.
2. Cashier’s checks and postal money orders can be forged. A cashier’s check is a check issued by a bank guarantee, drawn on the bank’s own funds and signed by a cashier. Cashier’s checks are considered guaranteed funds because the bank itself is responsible for paying the amount of the check, rather than the individual account holder. Cashier’s checks are usually required for real estate and brokerage transactions. If a person deposits a cashier’s check, at least $5000 must be credited to that person’s bank account the next day. The same applies to postal money orders.
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Counterfeit checks are simply fake checks, usually copies of business checks from real companies. Counterfeit check fraud typically involves three different types of financial documents: regular checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders. Some appear to be created in the U.S. and Canada, but many are shipped from overseas and then sent to victims.
• A regular counterfeit check indicates that it is from a business and usually contains a genuine account and routing number. These are not handwritten and look quite professional. The name of the business will appear on the check, and they often include a phone number.
• Fake cashier’s checks appear to be from a bank or financial institution. A true cashier’s check is a bank-guaranteed check drawn from the bank’s own funds and signed by a cashier. Cashier’s checks are considered guaranteed funds because the bank itself, rather than an individual, is responsible for paying the amount of the check. These are usually required for real estate and brokerage transactions. Most financial institutions have seen fraudulent cashier’s checks using their information. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has warned about fake cashier’s cheques.
• Money orders are issued by banks and the United States Postal Service. These are effectively substitutes for money. Money orders can be cashed at a bank and postal money orders at a post office. They are counterfeited by printing on special paper with a watermark. The Postal Service has issued a warning on how to spot a fake money order or money order fraud. Counterfeit checks are used in a variety of scams, such as mystery shopper or nanny “jobs,” as well as prize and sweepstakes scams. What scams have in common is that victims send money to the scammers. After depositing the check, victims are quickly asked to wire money or buy gift cards, which leaves the fraudsters in the lurch before the checks bounce.
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Regardless of the format, checks are usually professional and persuasive. Scammers have been known to obtain the names and account information of legitimate businesses by fishing inside mailboxes with sticky tape or stealing entire mailboxes off the street. Crooks then scans and examines Photoshop.
High quality check stock is easy to get. Scammers often replace the phone number on the check with a number they can answer if someone calls “business” to see if the check is legitimate. To verify the authenticity of a cheque, consumers should not call the phone number printed on the cheque, but should instead look up the supposed source telephone number and call the check directly to see if it is genuine.
Under Canadian and U.S. federal banking laws, when someone deposits a check, the bank usually has to make the funds available within two days, though there are exceptions. For cashier’s checks, if the check is less than $5,000, a bank must fund it within 24 hours. In practice, banks usually credit accounts immediately. However, if the test is suspicious, they may withhold it.
Crediting the account does not mean the check is valid. If the check is written on an account with another bank, as most forged checks are, the check must go from the depositing bank through a clearinghouse, usually run by the Federal Reserve Board, and then back to the bank where the account is held. The check is written. Only then can anyone in the banking system establish whether the check is legitimate. Although the system is now more likely to be automated, it can take two weeks or more for someone to determine whether a check is valid — whether it was actually signed by the bank or business named on the check.
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Young man Counterfeit check fraud affects victims of all ages and income levels. However, the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel complaint database shows that the largest age group of victims is between the ages of 20 and 29, accounting for 21 percent of the total. Conversely, less than 10 percent of victims are 70 or older.
The results are consistent with findings from a study called Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion, which found that millennials are more vulnerable to fraud.
Small businesses. Check fraud affects not only individual consumers but also small businesses. A 2016 American Bankers Association survey found that bank losses from small business accounts to fraudulent check fraud had increased to 22 percent, up from 14 percent two years earlier.
Lawyers. Some large law firms have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to collection fraud. The attorney deposits a fake check from the client’s “creditor,” deducts their legal fees, and uses a bank-to-bank wire transfer to send the remaining money to the client. It is the rare lawyer who has not been involved in this scam. Fraudsters may carefully research the lawyer or law firm to make the request as legitimate as possible.
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Banks. When the checks are found to be forged, the depositors are responsible for the losses. Banks can take money from the victims’ bank accounts or take collection action if it is not enough to cover the loss. When victims don’t have the money to cover fraudulent deposits, banks may suffer losses. FDIC insurance does not cover losses due to theft or fraud.
If a check is fraudulent, the company named on the check is not liable as long as it had no knowledge of the fraud.
The person who deposited the forged check is responsible for returning the money to the bank that made the money available to the depositor. This is explained in the Deposit Account Agreement that people sign when they open a bank account. Of course, victims have the right to sue those who defrauded them, but fraudsters are often difficult to track down.
A St. Louis College student, Isaias was looking for part-time work online when he found an offer to hire him as a mystery shopper. He picked up the hob and received a very professional looking letter describing his work.
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Izayas received a cashier’s check for $1,987.22 in the mail addressed to a credit union in California. He deposited the check in his bank and the next day the money was credited to his bank account. he
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