Ken Paxton

Counterfeit Cashier's Checks

Wednesday, April 2, 2003
Most people place great confidence in cashier's checks. Cashier's checks are generally considered much safer than personal checks, since they are issued by financial institutions that have already verified the existence of sufficient funds. Personal checks can "bounce" when there are insufficient funds in the check writer's personal account; cashier's checks do not bounce. However, they can turn out to be counterfeit, and recently Texas banks have alerted us to the existence of high quality counterfeit cashier's checks. The checks are used to perpetrate yet another form of advance fee fraud. The giveaway to advance fee fraud, Nigerian or otherwise, is the request that you pay money up front before receiving your prize, inheritance, share of the political spoils, or whatever. You have been warned not to pay until you see the money that has been promised to you. The counterfeit cashier's check disarms this precaution. You have in your hand what appears to be a very sound financial instrument drawn on a real bank in your own state. You think you have the cash, that the check is valid. You pay the advance fee - and then the bank calls to tell you that the cashier's check is counterfeit. Wait until even a cashier's check clears before sending any money.
This fraud often involves sales by individuals, of cars or other major purchases, often over the Internet. If you are selling a car or other major item, or are owed some legitimate payment, do not let down your guard because you have received a cashier's check. Be especially alert for a cashier's check that is made out for too much money. The scammer than asks you to return the overpayment. Do not release funds (or a possession you are selling, such as a car) in any business transaction just because you have a cashier's check in hand. First verify that the check is real.