North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Don't fall victim to counterfeit checks, AG Cooper warns consumers

Release date: 8/15/2005

Kinston: Attorney General Roy Cooper today called on North Carolina consumers and banks to be on the look out for counterfeit checks sent by scammers after bank employees spotted one of the checks in Kinston.

Employees with The Little Bank in Kinston foiled a counterfeit check/sweepstakes scam on Friday just as an older customer was preparing to wire money out of the country to the scammers. Only a few minutes before, the bank officers had seen a counterfeit check alert posted on a special database for bank security and law enforcement officials by the Attorney General’s office.

“Thanks to reports to our office and vigilant bank officials, we were able to stop these criminals from draining one person’s bank account,” Cooper explained. “But we know that other consumers have received these bogus checks and could fall victim to one of these scams.”

Dozens of similar counterfeit checks have been sent to consumers across North Carolina during the last two weeks as part of an assortment of international sweepstakes frauds and Nigerian money transfer scams. The checks are usually mailed to older consumers along with a letter claiming that they’ve won a foreign sweepstakes or lottery prize worth $250,000 to $850,000. Victims are instructed to deposit the counterfeit check, then wire the funds to Canada to cover “taxes” on the prize.

Cooper also warned consumers about a separate scam involving phony checks that appear to come from the State of Arkansas. People in as many as 18 states including North Carolina have received these checks after posting a resume online, primarily at Careerbuilder.com. Soon after posting a resume, consumers receive an e-mail from someone welcoming them as a new employee of a company and asking for help cashing checks from one of its “clients”, the State of Arkansas. Checks are then sent with instructions to cash them and wire the money to an address in Latvia, minus a 10% fee for the consumer.

Consumers who have received a check that sounds similar to the ones involved in these scams should not attempt to cash or deposit it. They should instead call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to report the suspicious check, Cooper said.

Fraud artists are producing and mailing counterfeit checks that bear the names, logos and routing numbers of several legitimate banking institutions and corporate account holders, both large and small. Cooper’s office is working with state, federal and international law enforcement to investigate these scams.