1

This situation happened with my grandmother a few days ago. Even though older people are forgetful I do not believe my grandmother has misremembered this situation or confused herself.

She wrote a $50 check to an association and it was never received. She contacted the bank and they said that the check with that number was processed by a grocery store for ~$300.

My grandmother has never spent that much money at a grocery store and rarely ever writes checks in person. The bank went through her recent transactions and found that that check number and the previous 3 check numbers had also been processed for near $300 to places she had never been.

She dropped the checks in the mail box for certain associations and companies days previous.

How would someone rewrite her checks that were marked in pen?

  • Did she put the envelopes in her mail box or a USPS mail box? If hers, they may have been stolen. – mkennedy Oct 25 '18 at 3:19
  • Mailbox. In front of her house. – theblindprophet Oct 25 '18 at 3:19
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    She should stop doing that then as it sounds like someone is going around stealing mail. – pboss3010 Oct 25 '18 at 12:02
8

She should report fraud to her bank, and request images of the checks that were cleared. Banks typically provide these images to account holders online (in lieu of sending physical canceled checks), but she should be able to get the images regardless. A fraud investigation should reveal whether there are signs of tampering in the payee and amount fields. Checks are designed to resist tampering, so if this happened as you described, it sounds like either a highly skilled crook or an inattentive bank that missed the signs when clearing the check.

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    It might be worth adding that using chemicals to erase and rewrite checks is a well known scam and called check washing – Charles E. Grant Oct 25 '18 at 3:25
4

Note that anyone can order blank checks and print on them - most small businesses do that routinely.

If someone gets his hands on a valid uncashed check, he can simply order blank checks with that account number, consecutively numbered, starting with the check he has. Then he trains and fakes the signature, and he can cash several of them.

Of course, this is illegal, and considered check fraud. But it's very easy to do, and the antiquated check writing system offers no protection against it.

Look at the copies of the deposited checks, and work with the bank and the police to get this filed as fraud, and chances are good to recover the money.

2

Adding digits to a check is easy if the writer left enough space. Like if the check originally said "50" and "Fifty", someone could add a "3" before the "50" to make it "350", and similarly write "Three" before the "Fifty".

There are also many tricks for changing a company or organization name to a person's name. Like if you wrote a check to "Fwacbar Electronics Company" but you wrote it as simply "FEC", someone could easily add, say, "ooper" after that to make it look like "F. E. Cooper". Years ago I was told to not make out checks to an acronym, write the full name of the organization, advice that has stuck with me.

All that's required for this sort of scam is to be able to match the color of the ink and that there's enough room to write your additions.

If that's not possible in this case, it gets harder but not impossible for a sufficiently skilled forger. Checks are made so that it's obvious if someone tried to erase text. But forgers have found ways to do it: use the right chemicals, reproduce a matching background after erasing, etc.

With modern computer scanners and printers, I suppose someone could scan in a check, edit the image as they liked, and then print a new one. Banks use techniques to prevent this -- the word "VOID" or some such is written in a way that is not visible normally, but that is supposed to show up if the check is scanned and reprinted due to subtleties in coloring etc -- but again, I'm sure a skilled forger can figure out ways to beat that.

  • In today's banking system in the U.S., it doesn't even have to be a skilled forger. I've routinely seen unsigned checks and checks with blank payee lines get deposited with not even a second glance. With ACH, there doesn't even need to be a physical check for money to be removed from an account. – spuck Nov 5 at 18:07

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