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#203347 by mahogany Wed May 28, 2014 8:20 am
Hi, first I am very new to the site so if I am posting in the wrong area, I apologize.

Basically I met a man that claimed to own and run several businesses. He wanted mural work done in his home. As per my contract he had to pay half upfront..that amount was $3,600. When it came time to pay the check was coming from one of his "businesses accounts" AND it was for slightly more like $3682.71. He instructed me to simply deposit the check in my account not cash it. Those were 3 red flags for me so instead I went directly to the bank the check was drawn from (to verify funds). I asked the teller to verify the check because I didn't trust the man who gave it to me. I DID NOT SIGN IT. Well she called the accounts manager and the AM said the check was a very good fraudulent check and to call the police. The bank teller ASKED me if I wanted to wait for for the police to tell them about the man. I said sure. We waited. I told them what happened then I was arrested! For felony forgery! (Released the next day) Even after the bank teller tried to explain to them that she did not think I was involved! My face ended up on the news for this! My court date for that incident is coming up and NO ONE can seem to answer this question. I have asked my lawyer, the police everyone! I am hoping this forum can help me. What should I have done differently?! I thought I was careful! I thought I was doing everything right and being cautious. After this is resolved in the future I would like to know what to do if presented with that situation again? How do I verify a check? What is the best way to prevent this in the future? Thank you for any advice.

#203348 by AlanJones Wed May 28, 2014 8:32 am
No one here can give you a real answer to that.

On the face of it, you appear to have done the right thing in checking that the check was legitimate, but my guess is that the police thought you were trying to see if a fake that you had created was good enough to fool the bank when it was paid in.

Did you just take the check with you or did you have evidence of where the check came from, such as your contract with the man? Going to your own bank might have been a better idea, rather than turning up at a bank where you are not known and presenting a check to be examined to see if it was fake or not.

Please do not tell scammers that they are listed here - it will take them seconds to change their fake details and their new details will not be listed for any future victims to find.
#203352 by TerranceBoyce Wed May 28, 2014 9:21 am
Welcome to Scamwarners mahogany.

Your situation raises many interesting issues. As AJ says, what you did was very sensible on the face of it. If you actually tried to cash it rather than just ask the bank to confirm it was good, then it puts you in a worse position, though you could do that quite innocently. The problem is that with the cheque being a forgery you are actually dealing with the people likely to lose money, or the institution responsible for the account of the company who will lose money, so they'll look after their interests first before yours.

As you probably guessed, your own bank may quite correctly refuse to venture an opinion as to whether or not a cheque is good and they can't tell you if there are funds available, so they wouldn't help you, and modern forgeries are usually quite perfect. I have seen hand signed documents and cheques that cannot be distinguished from the real thing and you can buy the printers and software to produce cheques quite cheaply over the internet.

The only way you can be certain that it's valid and that there are funds available is by paying it in to your account, however the 'kicker' to that is that under the statute of limitations it could be returned months or even years later if it's a forgery. A large company issuing many cheques may not even notice a forgery immediately, but it can legally repudiate a forgery at any time within the statute of limitations.

The solution is not to accept cheques from people you don't know. I'm not sure how practical that is in the USA and that raises other risks regarding the disclosure of your bank details to strangers.

Though I am not a lawyer and am not based in the USA, your best defence will be your behaviour at the bank and the paperwork you can provide backing up how this happened. If you weren't attempting to cash the cheque and provided ID, common sense indicates you weren't behaving in a manner you'd expect from a fraudster.

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