Eight years . . .

Eight years ago this month my husband and I became victims of a counterfeit cashier’s check scam when our bank told us that a cashier’s check we received was good, clear, verified and that we would have no problems with it.  Off of that information, we went forward with a transaction.  One week later the bank contacted us to let us know that the check was counterfeit, and that WE were 100% liable for the money . . . even though they had told us it was good, clear and verified.
It was this situation that brought us to create the website ScamVictimsUnited.com, where we warn people about scams, offer resources and advice, and allow people to talk with other victims on our message board.  In the first two years of our site being operational we helped stop over $2 million dollars from going into scams.

Now, you would think that eight years later things would have changed.  Some things have, but even today we see victims coming to our site who brought these checks to the bank and were told that they were good, clear or verified . . . sometimes by more than one bank employee . . . so the exact same situation that happened to us eight years ago is still happening to people today.
Until laws can be changed to hold the banks accountable for telling the customers that these checks are good, clear and verified and then later hold the bank customer liable when it comes back that they are NOT a true check, education is the best way we have to fight these scams.

What can you do?

Write to your law makers and tell them that you want to see banks held liable for releasing funds on checks that they have told customers are good, clear or verified, and then later reversed those words to hold the customer liable.

Sign our petition to ask for stronger consumer protection laws.  If the banks are liable for the money lost, and not the customer, then they will change their practices and make SURE that every penny is accounted for before they release the money to the customer.

Contact your bank and ask them if you brought in a cashier’s check for $4000, how long would it take to know you could use the money, with no worries about the check.  If their answer included terms like “clear“, “good” or “verified‘ you may want to read the information we have on what these terms really mean, and then armed with that information you may want to speak to the bank manager about better education on counterfeit checks for his staff, or go and find a bank that already does understand these items and can therefore better protect you and your money.

 

No, you didn’t win the Pepsi Lottery

Here is an email that got past my Spam filter.

This is to inform you that your e-mail has won you a total sum of £950,000.00 GBP (NINE HUNDRED & FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS) in the Pepsi lottery of 2010. To claim your prize Contact Shaw Hendrick at: shawhendrick-pepsi@admin.in.th

Name:
Address:
Mobile No:
Age:
Sex:
Occupation:
Country:

NOTE: ALL REPLIES MUST BE ADDRESSED TO Shaw Hendrick: shawhendrick-pepsi@admin.in.th
Judith Hodge
Public Announcer

First, you have to enter a contest/lottery/sweepstakes in order to win.  Second, I am going to guess if there was a Pepsi Lottery going on, they would have ads EVERWHERE telling people about it.  Third, if this person really worked for Pepsi, they would have an official Pepsi Company email address.

So how does this scam play out?  I am going to guess that you will either be asked for your bank account information so that they can directly deposit your winnings, but instead will take everything from your account.  The other option is that they will send you a cashier’s check for your winnings, and you will have to send a portion of that check back to them (maybe to cover legal fees for your winnings) but the problem will come AFTER you wire them the money and the bank calls you to tell you that the check is counterfeit and they now want you to pay them back.  You cannot just wait for the check to “clear” or be “verified” because even if the bank told you it was “clear” it can come back as counterfeit a week later . . . I know . . . that is what our former back told us!

For more information on Lottery Scams check out our website or talk with others on our message board.

What are they thinking!?!?!

A fellow scam fighter alerted me to an article this past week about a new feature in mobile banking.  Soon you will be able to take a photo of a check with your phone and then get that check deposited into your banking account.  My first thought was that the banks need to fix the problems and issues that they already have with check deposits before they create a whole new way for people to deposit their checks.

The article says

Banks have already offered smartphone applications that let customers check balances, transfer funds and make payments.

Yes, they do.  I have even heard some banks say that they can send you an email to alert you when a check has cleared.  If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will know that I have a big problem with the banks using the term “cleared” to customers.  Our bank told us that our cashier’s check was “cleared” and then one week later they called us to tell us that it was counterfeit.

Back to the article that I was talking about.  It goes on to explain how this new technology would work.

A bank customer takes a photo of the front of the check and the back of the check that has been signed by the customer. The photo gets sent to the bank through its mobile application. In most cases, funds are in the customers account immediately.

Wait a minute . . . immediately!?!?!  So now if someone were to take a picture of a cashier’s check, they could start using that money right away?  What about waiting for the check to be verified at a legitimate check?  What about protecting the banking customer’s funds by holding the check until it has passed through the system?  Oh wait, they don’t do that now with paper checks so why would they do it with electronic image checks.

Here is the ONLY positive side I could see about this.  There are some people that have taken a cashier’s check that they wanted verified into the bank and have been arrested for presenting a counterfeit check.  With this technology they could send a picture of the check into the bank instead of actually going into a branch location.  Of course, if the check is found to be counterfeit the bank could probably send the police to the person’s house to arrest them for trying to pass a counterfeit check.

More banks are expected to add the feature, especially as consumers demand 24 hour banking.

I would think that those same customers who are demanding 24 hour banking would also demand that the bank is looking out for their best interest.  How about giving us accurate information on when the money from a check is truly ours to use and spend without any worries?  How about telling the customer that the funds are available, but it could take 10 business days or more for the check to be verified as legitimate.  That is what this bank customer demands.