Counterfeit Scams

Counterfeit Check Scams
     Since 2007 there has been a significant increase in counterfeit check scams reported. This is mainly due to the advanced copying and printing technologies that are now available mainstream that can create authentic looking counterfeit checks.

The below counterfeit check scams are the most common scams occurring today. These are just some of the counterfeit check scams happening today. Continue to check the Security Tips page for information on new scams. If you have questions or you think you are a victim of a scam please call 414.761.1000 and you will be directed to a bank representative or our Security department.

Lottery Scam
     You receive a letter and check delivered by UPS or Fed-ex from a company such as: Megabucks Traveller’s Draw, North American Lottery, Publisher’s Clearing House, etc. The letter states that you just won a large sum of money and that the enclosed check is to be used to pay taxes on your winnings.The letter instructs you to deposit the check into your personal account and wire a portion back to the company handling your winnings.

After you wire the money, your bank notifies you that the check deposited is counterfeit and you are responsible for paying back the amount you had withdrawn.

Preventive Measures:
  • If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
  • When dealing with people you don’t know from another country be cautious.
  • Be wary if you receive notification of winning a lottery or drawing that you don’t remember entering.
  • Beware of lotteries that require you to pay a fee prior to delivery of your prize.
  • Be cautious when you are asked to send additional money to be eligible for future winnings.
  • Playing foreign lottery by phone or mail is a violation of federal law.
E-bay or Craigslist Scam
     You are selling something on e-bay or craigslist and are contacted by e-mail by a buyer that is interested in purchasing your item. The buyer tells you he will send you a check or money order to complete the purchase.

You receive the check via UPS or Fed-ex, but find the check is for more than the selling price. You call the buyer to inform him of his mistake. The buyer asks you to deposit the check and wire him the difference minus a little bonus for your trouble.

You deposit the check and send the difference back to the buyer only to discover that the check deposited is counterfeit. You are now responsible for covering the amount withdrawn.

Preventive Measures:
  • Prior to depositing the check or sending any money speak to your bank about how and why you received the check.
  • Until the check has been cleared by your bank never use the money.
  • Never wire money back for an overpayment of an item you are selling.
Mystery Shopper Scam
     You decide to answer a help wanted ad or you receive an unsolicited phone call about being a mystery shopper. You agree and are sent a check that you need to deposit in your bank account and wire back to your new employer. This is meant to be a test of how good customer service is at Western Union.

After you’ve wired the money back to your new employer you find out that the check is counterfeit. You are now responsible for repaying the bank the amount you have withdrawn.

Preventive Measures:
  • Be suspicious of a company that sends you a check only to ask you to wire the money back to them.
  • Research the name of the company and check it’s authenticity on the Better Business Bureau’s web site.
  • Never use the funds deposited until the bank has confirmed the check has cleared.
College Grant Scam
     You receive a letter that states you have been approved for a college grant in the amount of $25,000. The check included with the letter is for $2,900 and is meant to be used to pay the Federal and International Administration fees. The letter states you are to deposit the check and wire the money back to the sender.

Once you have wired the money back to the sender you find out the check is counterfeit. You are now responsible for repaying the bank the amount you have withdrawn.

Preventive Measures:
  • Research the company that supplied the grant money.
  • Ask yourself: Did I even apply for a grant?
  • Never use the funds deposited until the bank has confirmed the check has cleared.
  • Never wire money back to the sender until the check has cleared.