FraudWit Explains Fake Same Maker Check Scams
Fake Same Maker Checks Scams can be an oddity when it comes to understanding fraud schemes and scams. Essentially, you have two victims (Victim A and B). You also have the scammer who acts on both sides in different ways.
The scammer has obtained account information of Victim A. Victim A is unaware of the exposure and is not involved. Meanwhile, the scammer is actively scamming Victim B. In many cases this is tied to Romance Scams. The scammer, having achieved a level of trust with B, states that they have opened a bank account in the victim’s name. [It should be pointed out here someone opening an account in your name should be a red flag].
The scammer creates counterfeit checks referencing Victim A’s exposed account, but they add Victim B’s information on the fake check to make it appear to be drawn on their account. They then send the check to Victim B, convincing them to then shift the funds out.
Victim A (or Victim A's bank) sees the check and raises the alarm. The bank returns the check and/or contacts Victim B’s bank. While Victim B did not intend to be an instrument of the fraud, they have inadvertently had money sent to the scammer. This can cause more problems for all involved if Victim B doesn’t believe the activity is related to a scam (because the scammer has coached or anesthetized their victim).
So what does this look like in an example. We have three characters:
Scammer: Kenneth The Schemey
Victim A: Peter Checks
Victim B: Zelda Sweetheart
Kenneth The Schemey starts his scammy swindle by obtaining Peter Checks’ check. Peter has no idea that his account is exposed and goes about his business.
Kenneth The Schemey has been talking to Zelda Sweetheart. Zelda is under the impression that Kenneth is in a far-off land building an orphanage. Months have passed by for Zelda, who is in love with Kenneth. She can’t wait until the orphanage is built, so he can travel to her.
One day Kenneth relays to Zelda that he needs her help. The evil tyrant of the far-off land wants to place heavy taxes on building orphanages. It will set them back months or years. They might not even be able to complete the construction. What will happen to the kids?
“How tragic,” he says to her over the phone. “I have a way around it though.”
Kenneth relays his idea to Zelda, who is all ears and ready to help her online boyfriend. He tells her that if the money appears to come from her, the taxes won’t apply. He has the money, and to get it over to her he will open a bank account in her name and send her a check to deposit.
Hoping to see him soon, Zelda agrees to help Kenneth and his tax-free orphanage building cause. She waits for the check to come in the mail. Meanwhile, Kenneth the Schemey uses the routing and account number from Peter Checks’ stolen check to make a counterfeit check using Zelda’s name and address. She will just think that he actually opened an account.
Kenneth sends the counterfeit check to Zelda. Believing Kenneth’s story and seeing the check in her name as further proof of his love and devotion to the children, she writes out the check for $25,000 paying herself. She deposits the check and wires $20,000 out as soon as the funds are made available.
Peter Checks notices the strange check on his account. He then remembers that he never received some checks he ordered in the mail. Peter contacts his bank in time to be able to return the fraudulent item.
Meanwhile, the account Zelda deposited the check into is debited. The wire to Kenneth was already sent, so the check return causes a large overdraft. Initially, Zelda concludes it is a mistake. Her bank calls with concerns she is involved in a scam. She doesn’t believe them on the call, but when Kenneth doesn’t respond to her texts or calls, she finally realizes he was a romance scammer and there was no orphanage being built. Zelda has been scammed!
Fraud Fighters in bank fraud may see one side or another of this scheme (the counterfeit check or the deposit based scam). Hopefully this example gives context to the full 360 view of the scenario, to better understand both sides. How you will incorporate the information is up to you.