By Jamey Kabisch

Fake check scams have become more
prevalent as online auction sites and
classified ads have gained popularity.
We want to educate customers and
the community by exposing the scam
and offering tips to avoid becoming a
There are many variations of the fake
check scam, but the common thread is
a stranger proposing to send the victim
a check and have the victim wire
money in return. The stranger may be
someone offering to buy something
you advertised for sale, pay you to
work at home, or give you an advance
on a sweepstakes you won.
In one local example, a woman had a
horse for sale. She received an articulate
email asking more questions
about the horse. After she replied, the
prospective buyer sent another asking
if she would accept a check to cover
the purchase price, vet check, and
shipping costs (since they weren’t sure
how much it would cost, of course) –
and then return any remaining funds
back to the “buyer.” It was tempting to
believe someone was so eager to buy.
But, regardless of how the contact
is initiated or how well written the
request, the bottom line is this: if
someone wants to pay you by check
but wants you to give money back, it’s
a scam.
Today’s technology enables crooks
to create checks and money orders
that look so real it’s often difficult for
experts to determine they are fake.
Since federal law mandates that banks
must make deposited funds available
quickly, a customer may be able
to withdraw money on a fake check,
even if it is a forged cashier’s check
or money order. The check depositor
is responsible for the funds, and
the bounced check is returned to the
bank and debited from the customer’s
To avoid becoming a victim, remember:
• There is no legitimate reason
for someone who is giving you
money to ask you to give money
• If you are uncertain a check is
good, ask your bank about check
processing options before accepting
• If a stranger wants to pay you for
something, insist on a cashier’s
check for the exact amount, preferably
from a local bank or one
with a branch in your area.
For more details about how fake check
scams work and how to avoid them,
Jamey Kabisch is Branch President
at First Security Bank in Big Sky.
The friendly staff at First Security
is available to answer any banking
(406) 993-3350