**WARNING –Fake Official Check SCAM ALERT** Learn more »
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**WARNING –Fake Official Check SCAM ALERT**


The Credit Union has learned that there’s currently check scams occurring involving fraudulent Southeastern Credit Union Official Checks, and we wanted to reach out, to make sure you have the information you need to help protect yourselves. 


Fake check scams, in which a criminal sends you a fake check (the check is not good)  to cash and then requests you wire them a portion of the money back, or send them gift cards in the amount of money to be returned are very common.  According to the Better Business Bureau, these fake awards asking the victim to accept a check as winnings and return a small portion as a processing fee, are  one of the most prevalent hoaxes targeting the marketplace today.  There are many variations of the fake award or fake winning check scam. It could start with someone offering to pay you to do work at home, give you an “advance” on a sweepstakes you’ve supposedly won, or pay the first installment on the millions that you’ll receive if you agree to have money in a foreign country transferred to your account for safekeeping. Whatever the pitch, the person may sound quite believable.


There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire or send a portion of the money back. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, you should research the offer in considerable detail.  If you take a fraudulent check to your credit union or bank, deposit it for cash, and the check is returned, the bank will look to you for restitution, at least initially. 


Official checks show up in numerous scams but SCU has recently seen the following:

  •  Walmart Secret Shopper Scam
  • Craig’s List Scam
  • Foster Home Scam
  • SECU Car Logo Scam


More Types Of  Check Scams

Con artists continue to change their approach over time, but keep an eye out for any of the situations below.  Thieves are good at what they do, but they often give hints. Ask yourself if the situation makes sense.



Type Of Scam


Signs It’s A Scam


Scammers offer to:

-Buy an item you're selling

-Pay for your services in advance

-Rent your apartment or rent their apartment to you

-Give you a "deal" on merchandise

-Give you a job (often to "receive customer payments")

If a buyer does not ask questions or know much about the item you’re selling, why are they so eager to buy? It may turn out that they have no intention of using whatever you’re selling.


If you’re selling merchandise, for instance, the scammer will ask you to provide your personal information for printing on a fake official check that’s usually written in a much higher amount than your asking price.


The buyer will then ask you to return the excess amount, claiming he or she made a mistake and hope that you’ll send back legitimate money before you realize the check was fake.

Secret/Mystery Shopper

Scammers claim to be "hiring" people to:

-Work from home

-Become a secret shopper (often to "assess the quality" of a money transfer service)

In the telecommuting scenario, victims receive a fake official check as a starting bonus but are also asked to cover the cost of “account activation.” Scammers hope to receive account activation funds before the official checks would normally clear.


In the mystery-shopping scam, victims are told to deposit a official check into their account and withdraw the amount in cash. They must then use a money-transfer service to send the funds to the scammer and "evaluate" the service.

Foreign Lottery

Scammers tell victims:

-They won the lottery in a foreign country

-They received an inheritance from someone's estate

Victims are instructed in a letter to “claim" their lottery winnings or inheritance but must first pay “taxes and fees” before receiving their prize or money. A fake official check is enclosed to cover those taxes and fees, which the scammer asks the victim to wire back.

Check Overpayment/
Online Auction

Scammers offer to pay by official check for:

-Sale items posted on classified ads or online auction websites

The scammer often uses an excuse to write the check in a much higher amount than the sale price then asks the victim to wire back the difference after depositing the check into their account.


How To Spot A Fake Official Check

Look for the signs listed in the following table to help you spot a fake official check.



What To Look For


Check Origin

A genuine official check will display a legitimate bank name, but many fakes will too. You can tell a check is fake if you can’t find legitimate information about the issuing bank online or if the check was mailed from overseas (as is often, but not always, the case).

Check Amount

Fakes are often written in an amount far exceeding the amount required, which is intended to coax the victim into wiring back the balance to the scammer.

Safety Features

Fakes are sometimes missing security thread, watermarks, microprints, color-shifting ink, instructions for the bank teller (on the front or back of the check), etc. On the other hand, they may contain these features — but in poor quality.

Payee Name

The payee's name should already be printed on a official check (this is done at the bank by a teller). If the payee line is blank, the check is fake.

Bank Phone Number

A genuine official check always includes a phone number for the issuing bank. That number is often missing on a fake check or is fake itself.

Suspicious Communication

Scammers often communicate with their victims using poor grammar/spelling or vague language. They may also refuse to meet in person or send an email or a text message indicating they’re not from your area.


How To Verify A Official Check:

Although the signs described in the above table may indicate forgery, they do not always guarantee that a official check is fake. It’s always a good idea to call or visit the Credit Union before cashing or depositing an official check, whether or not you doubt its validity. However, do not contact the number that’s printed on the check, as it’s likely also a fake. Instead, search for the institution’s phone number online. Sometimes, the scammer will also use a legitimate routing number on a check, so the Credit Union will have to inspect the check for other indications of fraud.

Step away from the situation before you accept an official check and trust your gut. With a fresh perspective, you may notice odd clues that indicate trouble.