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WebsiteCompass 13 Beware of Fake Check Scams The median amount lost per reported fraud is about $2,000 F raudsters are smart and know a good thing (for them) when they see it. That’s why, even though paper checks aren’t used much anymore, fake check scams are still widespread. Here we explain why fraudsters employ fake check scams, how they work, and what you need to do to protect yourself. Risky but Profitable Those who execute fake check scams are taking a risk. If they’re caught for check fraud, they can face jail time and criminal fines. They may also have to pay restitution to their victims. Given that the median amount lost per reported fraud is about $2,000, fraudsters who have fooled many people with this scam could be in for a large financial hit. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “People reported more than 27,000 fake check scams in 2019, with reported losses topping $28 million.” Additionally, “Fake checks are on the rise—they’re up by about 65% over 2015 levels. What’s more, no other fraud among last year’s top 10 most frequently reported scams came close to the individual losses people reported on fake check [scams] last year.” So, why do fraudsters take the risk of being caught? They have a lot to gain. According to an AARP article, “These scams remain popular with fraudsters because they’re easy to pull off. With the help of a scanner and a good printer, a crook can fabricate a bogus check…that’s hard to distinguish from the real thing.” How This ScamWorks Let’s say you’re looking for a job and someone sends you an email saying, “We’d like to hire you and send you advance payment via check.” While it sounds a little weird, you really need the work, so you agree. You receive the check and see that it’s for more than the agreed-upon amount. The check writer tells you it was a mistake and asks you to wire the difference back to them. Because it can take days or even weeks to process checks, your bank informs you sometime later that the check was Back to Basics Source: