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Counterfeit cheque fraud

Counterfeit cheques are manufactured or printed on non-bank paper to look exactly like genuine cheques.

You advertise an item for sale in a listings magazine or paper, on an online advertising board, or online auction site. The items are often high-value, such as cars.

Someone contacts you from abroad saying they want to buy the item and you both agree a price. The fraudulent buyer says they’ll send your payment and asks you to forward the item once you receive the money.

You then receive a cheque for more than the agreed amount. The fraudster gives you various reasons for the overpayment. For example: to cover shipping costs or to provide cash that the fraudster is unable to access for some reason.

The fraudster asks you to pay the cheque into your bank account and, when it clears, to withdraw the excess in cash and send it to them through a money transfer agent or to a specified shipping agent.

The cheque you receive is a fake. The banking system only picks this up after the money shows up as cleared in your account but you’ve already sent the money to the fraudster.

When the banking system identifies the cheque as a fake, your bank will debit money to the value of the cheque from your account, leaving you out of pocket.

Other cheque frauds:

Forged cheque fraud
A forged cheque is a genuine cheque that has been stolen from an innocent customer and used by a fraudster with a forged signature.

Fraudulently altered cheques
A fraudulently altered cheque is a genuine cheque that has been made out by the genuine customer, but a fraudster has altered the cheque in some way before it is paid in, eg by altering the beneficiary's name or the amount of the cheque.

Are you a victim of counterfeit cheque fraud?

You've advertised an item for sale and someone has contacted you saying they want to buy it. They send a cheque to your bank account for more than the agreed amount and ask you to withdraw the excess in cash and send it to them via money transfer.

What should you do if you’ve been a victim of counterfeit cheque fraud?

Protect yourself against counterfeit cheque fraud

  • Beware of overseas buyers who readily agree a price without seeing what they are buying.
  • If the buyer refuses to agree shipping costs in the overall price, this indicates fraud.
  • Any buyer who sends a cheque for more than the agreed amount and asks you to send cash to them, a shipping company, or anyone else is very probably up to no good.

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.