Businesses alerted to be on the lookout for check scams

Better Business Bureau is alerting local businesses to be on the lookout for check scams using the real names and bank account numbers of area companies.
April 08, 2014

A consumer from Lake Placid, Florida reported to BBB that she received a fake check as part of a scam secret shopper operation operating as Con-Safety Mystery Shopping Co.

In a letter along with the fake check, she was instructed to deposit the $2,996 check, then return all but $340 to shop with… a scam familiar to Better Business Bureau.

Convinced that it was a scam, she called the real business, Construction Safety Products Inc., in Shreveport, to report the check, which was drawn on their name.

The owner of the business then immediately called the BBB to ask for assistance.

After BBB looked into the check, it was discovered that the check was using the name of a real local Shreveport business and was a counterfeit check with a real account number and bank routing number.

Better Business Bureau, as part of an investigation, interviewed the owner of the company, who said the fake check looked very similar to the real ones used by his business.

The incident was also reported to the bank, which immediately took steps to look into the matter and protect the account of the business owner as well as prevent further bank fraud against the company.

According to BBB reports, scammers will often intercept real checks from real businesses, “wash them,” then use them to perpetuate check scams on unsuspecting consumers and legitimate businesses.

Some important tips for businesses regarding checks:

  • Monitor your accounts payable. Stop payment on the check and send out another one if too much time goes by and the check appears to be “lost.”
  • Use tamper resistant checks. Checks with security features make it harder for crooks who may intercept them to counterfeit or alter them.
  • Keep track of check orders. Notify your check supplier and bank if you order checks that don’t arrive in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Keep checks secured. Keep reserve supplies of checks, deposit slips and other banking documents locked up and limit the number of people who can access the
  • Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t leave checks or other bank records unattended while you serve customers. Someone might take them while you aren’t looking.

Important tip for the consumer: 

  • Never agree to deposit a check and send a portion to someone else. This is a well-known scam. No matter how legitimate the check may appear to be, no matter what story or reasonable-sounding explanation you are given (“Mystery shopper” is a common scheme), you will get burned. A bank teller might accept the check, but when it turns out to be fake, you will have to reimburse the bank for whatever amount you wired to the scammer.