Computer Crime Research Center


Widespread scam

Date: February 23, 2007

True or false: If a check ''clears'' within the typical one to five business days but later is discovered to be fake, the bank customer who deposited the check and subsequently spends the money cannot be held financially responsible for the fraud.

If you answered false, congratulations. You know something about how the banking system works.

But if you answered true, you could be conned one day.

Just because you may have access to the funds deposited via a check does not mean that the check is ''good.'' Although federal regulations require financial institutions to make funds from a deposit available generally within one to five business days, it actually can take weeks before a bank discovers that a deposited check is worthless.

The National Consumers League recently reported that fake check scams are alarmingly on the rise. In 2006, counterfeit check scams shot to the top of the league's telemarketing fraud list and ranked third among Internet-based scams.
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