Don’t Be A Victim of a Scam

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At YNB we hope you never get scammed. Scamming is defined as being cheated, swindled, conned, or tricked. It is a crime, but oftentimes these kinds of crimes are committed by people in foreign countries and prosecution and/or getting your funds or goods back is nearly impossible. Any time you receive an offer which seems too good to be true, it usually is. Be skeptical of every “too good to be true” offer you receive over the internet, the phone, by mail, or in person.

The typical scam works something like this: a bank customer in good standing is convinced by a stranger to “trust” them with their funds. The crook warns the victim to be in a position to “prove” he can be trusted, or to not tell anyone of this secret deal. If you receive a deal like this, discuss it with someone before proceeding with it. If you receive something like this, come into YNB and go over the details with us first.

Second, a check of some sort is sent to be deposited in the victim’s account. It might be a hundred dollars or thousands of dollars and it is made out to you. It’s unlikely the bank will refuse to accept deposit of the check if the check is deposited by a well-known bank customer. It may appear to be a U.S. government check, a cashier’s check,  or any other kind of check, but it may have a very official look to it. The check may even be drawn on a large, well-known company, but in every case, the check is not valid. It may be a completely fictitious check drawn on a nonexistence entity at a nonexistent bank. It may be a falsely-created check drawn on an actual company’s account. It may be drawn on a Canadian bank. It also could be a properly issued check which was stolen from the mail, chemically washed to remove the original payee and altered to show the victim as payee. BEWARE !

How the crook gets you hooked

Everyone would love to have some extra money from time to time, and this seems like an easy way to make some extra cash. The crook convinces you to send part of the check proceeds your will receive to an accomplice as soon as the bank will allow the customer to withdraw the funds. The reason for sending the money varies. They might say the funds are needed to release even more money that will be coming your way, or to pay taxes, licenses, fees, or lawyer’s fees for the deal. The customer may be told that a foreign company needs an agent to cash a check in the U.S. and then wire the funds (many times to countries like Nigeria or West Africa). The foreign company may say it’s account has been blocked because of current unrest. Their stories will vary, but oftentimes they are very believable. They want you to trust them. They will say things you want to hear, and entice you with tells of new-found wealth. They may even have testimonials attached. They play on your desire to get rich quick, or get something for nothing.

How long should I wait to know if the check is “good” or not?

It’s almost impossible to tell when you have waited long enough. It is possible to be liable for the check for several years. Just because an account is credited and the bank releases any holds on the funds does not mean that the check is good. It is possible, under normal circumstances, for a check drawn on another U.S. bank to be returned for a forged maker’s signature two weeks after the deposit is made. If the check is drawn on a Canadian bank, the check can be returned several months later. If it is a fictitious check drawn on the U.S. treasury, the credit can be reversed may months after the check was deposited. However, waiting weeks or even months is not always safe. If a legitimate check was stolen from the mail and then altered, the check can be returned for three years or more after it was deposited. When the check can be returned to the depository bank, the depository customer will be liable for the check.

How can I verify that a check is “good”?

It is very, very hard to know if a check is “good” or not. It is often possible, however, to verify that the check is definitely invalid. If the check is drawn on a phony account or a phony cashier’s check, contacting the bank it is alleged to be drawn on may help determine whether it is worthless or not. However, if you contact the bank, they cannot tell you whether or not the check was stolen from the mail and altered. Only the maker of the check can provide that information. You may be able to contact the maker of the check directly; however you should never us e a phone number listed on the check. You will need to independently locate the phone number of the check maker. However, even if you do all the verification possible, there is still a possibility that the check could be returned years later, and you will be stuck.

Too Good To Be True? Don’t Do it!

Many of these scams fall into the “too good to be true” category. If it seems to be too good to be true, it is. The crooks take advantage of the fact that even their skeptical victims often can’t figure out how they are being scammed. Whenever you negotiate a check, you have the potential for long-term liability. If you are being asked to cash a check for a stranger and send someone part of the money, you are being scammed. Don’t do it!

Just Say No To Potential Scammers

When a check is cashed, your bank often allows the funds to be withdrawn within a few days. However, if the check is not valid, the depositor can be liable for the check for a very long period of time. You need to be skeptical of any check received from a stranger. Even if he is royalty, or he has made hundreds rich using just this simple technique, or someone you trust told you that it really does work. Simply put: if you are asked to deposit a check and send some of the funds to others, simply refuse. It could save you from a long-term financial mess.