Counterfeit Checks and Money Orders

  • Counterfeit check and money order scams dupe individuals selling items through Internet classified ads or online sales. The buyer sends the seller a cashier’s check or money order that exceeds the purchase amount — sometimes by thousands of dollars — saying the excess amount is to be used to pay shipping or other related costs.
  • Be wary of any purchasers proposing to conduct transactions this way! Be especially suspicious of those coming from outside the U.S. Take steps to ensure that a check has fully cleared before doing anything with the funds.
  • Warning signs to look out for:
    • In person: Scammers befriend you and ask you to cash a check or money order as a favor.
    • Buyers from classified ads, eBay, or other online advertising: They want to buy something that you are selling and send a check or money order for more than you're asking. You are asked to send the extra to pay for a delivery or some other service.
    • New Business: They hire you to work at home and ask you to deposit checks or money orders in your account as part of your job. Sometimes they have you open a new account for the "business", but you're still responsible for any checks that you deposit.
    • Lottery: They tell you you won a lottery, sweepstakes or inheritance and send you a check or money order as an "advance" on the millions that you're going to receive, to use them to "pay taxes," delivery or other fees.
    • Foreign Business: They offer you a foreign business deal and send you a check or money order as an advance on your profits.