Delta Police scam of the month: beware of cheque fraud

Delta Police scam of the month: beware of cheque fraud

Scammers want you to cash a bum cheque and send them some of the funds, leaving you on the hook

By Const. Dustin Classen, Delta Police Department economic and technical crime unit

Fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to part you from your money, and one of their favourites is cheque fraud.

Whatever the story, the fraudster invariably sends you a cheque, with instructions to deposit it then send some portion of the money on to a third party. Eventually that cheque gets returned and you’re out of pocket.

In order to protect yourself, it’s important to realize how cheques are cleared in Canada. When you deposit a cheque, while your bank may well make those funds available to you right away, that does not mean the cheque has cleared the issuing bank, who might still return it.

According to Payments Canada rules, a cheque can be returned for reason of “material alteration” up to 90 days after being received.

So if you deposit, say, a stolen cheque that’s been altered in some way by the fraudster — a cheque you believe to be real — it can be returned up to 90 days later, leaving you on the hook for any of the money you’ve spent.

Recent examples of such schemes abound. In one, the fraudster replies to an apartment rental ad, sending a cheque to secure the first month’s rent, with a little extra the fraudster asks you to forward to his “cousin,” who will be arranging the moving company on his behalf.

Another example involved the victim accepting a job as a Western Union customer service secret shopper. The fraudster sent the victim a cheque, with instructions to send the proceeds via Western Union, then fill out a survey of the customer service they received.

While the story will endlessly change, it will always involve the deposit of a cheque with instructions to send away some or all of the funds. If you or anyone you know has been victimized by this type of scam, please contact your local police.

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Delta Police scam of the month: beware of cheque fraud