Counterfeit cheque fraud

Counterfeit cheque frauds rely on your willingness to help someone else and perhaps make a profit.

How does counterfeit cheque fraud work?

  • You advertise an item for sale in a listings magazine, paper or on an online auction site. The items are often high-value, such as cars.
  • Someone contacts you from abroad to say they want to buy the item you are selling and you both agree a price. The fraudulent buyer says they will send your payment and ask you to forward the item once you receive it.
  • You then receive a cheque for more than the agreed amount. The fraudster gives you various reasons for the overpayment. For example: to cover shipping costs or to provide cash that the fraudster is unable to access for some reason.
  • The fraudster asks you to pay the cheque into your bank account and, when it clears, to withdraw the excess in cash and send it to them through a money transfer agent or to a specified shipping agent.
  • The cheque you receive is a fake. The banking system only picks this up after the money shows up as cleared in your account and you have sent the money to the fraudster.
  • When the banking system identifies the cheque as a fake, your bank will debit money to the value of the cheque from your account, leaving you out of pocket.

How to recognise a counterfeit cheque fraud

  • Be aware of overseas buyers who readily agree a price without seeing what they are buying
  • If the buyer refuses to agree shipping costs in the overall price, this indicates fraud
  • Any buyer who sends a cheque for more than the agreed amount and asks you to send cash to them, a shipping company or anyone else is very probably up to no good.

What you should do

Report the fraud to Action Fraud and keep any documents, emails etc. sent by the fraudster as possible evidence.

Reporting fraud

If you're a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response dial 999.

If it is a non-emergency situation,

Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You can also report fraud or find further advice and information on the Action Fraud website.