Ken Paxton
Consumer Protection

Counterfeit Cashier's Checks

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.

ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.