Recent years have seen the proliferation of variations of what is often called the “Nigerian Check Scam.” This scam typically unfolds when someone, usually located outside the country, fabricates a counterfeit check and asks a bank customer inside the country to accept the counterfeit check, deposit the check into his or her bank account and quickly wire funds outside the country in exchange for a portion of the funds. Another variation of the scam unfolds when a fraudster offers to buy an item that an individual seller inside the country has listed for sale on the Internet. Instead of sending a check for the listed price, the fraudster sends a check for a substantially larger amount (providing some plausible reason a larger amount was mistakenly sent in the first place) and asks the seller to wire back the difference. In “The Nigerian Check Scam: An Oldie Revisited,” Squire Sanders partner George Brandon and associate Matthew J. Ohre, both of the Phoenix office, explain that the growing problem of counterfeit checks has increased the need for attention to two issues: (i) basic preventive measures banks and individuals can take to avoid falling victim to the fraud and (ii) assuming the passing of the counterfeit check was successful, finding the persons generally liable for the fraud.
Reprinted with permission of The Banking Law Journal.