Fake checks drive many types of scams – like those involving phony prize wins, fake jobs, secret shoppers, online classified ad sales and others. In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check – sometimes for several thousand dollars and usually for more than what you are owed – and wire some of the money back to that person.
The scammers always have a good story to explain the overpayment – they’re stuck out of the country, they need you to cover taxes or fees, you need to buy supplies or something else. But by the time your bank discovers that you’ve deposited a bad check, the scammer already has the money you sent, and you’re stuck paying the rest of the check back to the bank.
The Federal Trade Commission receives tens of thousands of reports each year about fake checks. Over the last three years, the number of complaints has steadily increased, and so have the dollars lost. If you are a victim of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission: FTC.gov/complaints.