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Two weeks ago, my husband lost his job. We NEED money and I used to edit and proofread before my son was born. I put my resume on Indeed and was contacted by a law office in California.

After my interview, the hiring manager (or whatever you call him) said I would need to allow them to deliver equipment to me (a lot of companies do this in order to make sure they have installed software properly and that security is to their standards). HOWEVER, he wanted to send me a check which I would print and scan to my bank using the mobile bank deposit. Since he was from California and I'm on the other side of the country, it would save time.

Because I saw a post about people getting scammed, I called the bank from which the check was issued and was told it had cleared. I really need a job, and I am not seeing the obvious way they would get money from me by doing this. The company is legitimate; the bank is legitimate. And just this very second it hit me that maybe I should just call the law office and ask them their policy on this type of issue? I wonder how THAT would go over (assuming it is a legitimate deal)?

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    Did they call you? Have you ever called that law office at their official public number? Emailing a check is very suspicious, especially from lawyers. I'm sure they could have overnight a paper check for you.
    – littleadv
    Nov 28, 2023 at 19:28
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    It seems you may have already attempted to deposit this cheque - the onus is on YOU to call your bank and let them know you now suspect it may be fraud. You do not want to be implicated in the money laundering likely taking place here. Nov 28, 2023 at 19:49
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    Side note - your scam-dar should have first gone off when you were going to be paid before doing any work - how would they know that you weren't going to take the money and run away? They wouldn't operate like that, and that means they have ulterior motives. Nov 28, 2023 at 19:50
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    If you call the employer or the bank DO NOT rely on the phone numbers in the emails or images that were sent to you. Do some Googling and contact using numbers that have been published in some official record. Sadly, scammers know that some job hunters are desperate and have no compunction about taking advantage of it. Nov 28, 2023 at 20:02
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    "so would hate for them to them think I'm suspicious about everything" I'm really confused why you would think double checking with them would bother them in any way. And yes, this is 100% a scam, there is absolutely no chance a real business would be having you print out checks to mobile deposit.
    – eps
    Nov 29, 2023 at 14:31

6 Answers 6

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The more I think about it the more it looks like a scam.

Signs of a scam:

  • They contacted you, you never contacted them. You can start with contacting them via an independently obtained phone number. For example, use the phone number listed in the California Bar Association data for this attorney. If they confirm everything after you call them then it's weird, but probably legit.

  • They emailed you a check. No-one does that, it's against the bank mobile deposit ToS to deposit a check you don't physically have, and is generally not advised due to the ease of forgery and manipulation of digital images. Lawyers should know this better than others.

  • You said you contacted the bank and they confirmed the check cleared on the other end. How exactly did you call that bank? Using the phone number on the check? It is hard for me to believe that any banker would actually confirm anything like that to a random person on the phone, it makes no sense.

Scammers prey on the desperate and the gullible because they miss these most obvious signs of scams being too busy worrying about their own personal situation, just like you did. At every step you could have independently verified the data by calling an independently obtained phone number for the law firm, the bank, or just using your common sense. But you're stressed, in a desperate situation, need the money quick, and that's exactly what the scammers are looking for.

Don't beat yourself up, you did realize something is off and you are taking action. After calling the law firm and them (as I expect) telling you they've never heard of you before, call your bank and tell them the check is fraudulent and they should return the deposit. Avoid all contact with the scammers, and report it to your local law enforcement.

The way the scam works is they send you a bad check that doesn't immediately bounce. Either drawn on an account of an unsuspecting victim, or a forged cashier's check, or something else of that kind. Then under some pretence they ask you to send the money back to them, usually in an untraceable manner (gift cards or money transfer services) or through a wire transfer. The check will eventually bounce and you'll be on the hook for the money and the crime. They've laundered the fraudulent check with a clean money they got from you.

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    Cheques are assumed to be valid until proven otherwise. There are ways to setup the cheque's routing code to basically make it take much longer than normal to clear, at which point it'll bounce and you'll be out the money. The scam works by giving you more money than the cheque stays, and you wire them back the "extra" via a method that cannot be refunded. After a month or so, the cheque will bounce and you'll be out all the money you spent. On top of that, some will also make you buy through a specific vendor which is THEIR guys.
    – Nelson
    Nov 29, 2023 at 3:43
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    It's particularly hard to believe that they would simultaneously be so punctilious about security as to pay for IT equipment [if I've understood correctly] and software, and so slack about security as to be emailing a check. Nov 29, 2023 at 3:59
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    I would not put so much weight on being able to call and confirm that the law firm in question and verify their legitimacy - it is entirely possible for them to set up the facade of a legitimate law firm to facilitate the scam with multiple people. But, confirming their BAR association would help.
    – Zibbobz
    Nov 29, 2023 at 15:53
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    @Zibbobz You think the scammers have managed to keep a scam going since 2013 when the law firm was established and the website first appeared on archive.org? If they are that organized, the don't need to be waisting their time stealing $1000 or whatever from poor Beth. Much more likely that have nothing to do with Yasrebi law and are assuming no one will check. Nov 29, 2023 at 16:57
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    @JimFell read your mobile deposit ToS carefully.
    – littleadv
    Nov 30, 2023 at 21:45
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When you deposit a cheque, your bank will likely release the funds to you before it has actually 'cleared'. This means there is a period of time where the bank basically puts it on good faith that the cheque you have provided is legitimate, and you then have the ability to use that cash as you normally would. Then later, if it is discovered that the cheque is fraudulent / comes from an account with insufficient funds, the bank will revoke the deposit, as if it never happened.

'Cheque Clearing Scams' are one of the most common form of payment scam that exist. Most likely the next step is after you deposit a cheque, you will be told they overpaid you / you need to pay for some 'employment service' out of the cheque they have given you. This makes you a 'money mule' who is assisting a criminal organization with money laundering. They use intermediary accounts to try and swiftly disburse ill-gotten gains from various sources.

NOTE: Even if they do not immediately act in a way that you understand how the scam would work, the fact that they are asking you to print your own cheque [??????????] is insane - after you print it, would you need to sign it? This is not how anyone does business!!

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    I was assuming that they sent her a picture (front/back) of a complete check and had her take a picture of the printout for a mobile deposit.
    – D Stanley
    Nov 28, 2023 at 21:21
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    Money laundering is one possibility, but it may also just be plain theft from the OP (and other victims like her) if the check is entirely fake (vs. drawn on some third victim’s account).
    – nobody
    Nov 29, 2023 at 2:29
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    Actually, to me it sounds more like the setup for a "cash at delivery"-scam rather than an overpayment scam. So I'd expect the next step to be that OP is told to pay the delivery person in cash in exchange for a box (which will be full of junk).
    – Arno
    Nov 29, 2023 at 12:37
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    @Arno Sure, that's a possible way it could work - but that would still be step 2 of a scam that started by filling the account with payment through revocable means [cheque that hasn't cleared]. Nov 29, 2023 at 21:29
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Above all, DO NOT SEND ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY TO THEM OR ANYONE EVEN SLIGHTLY CONNECTED TO THEM, OR THIS "JOB", FOR ANY REASON AT ALL!!

Currently it sounds like you're only being set up for a scam. They've sent you a check that is almost certainly fraudulent ... but that hasn't cost you anything (except time and stress) yet.

Follow the other answers' advice, and the check will almost certainly bounce/get cancelled. But as long as you haven't given any money away to anyone based on this interaction, you're fine.

They will almost certainly reach out to say that, they accidentally sent you the wrong amount and you need to return some of that money to them. Or that the initial check covered some of the delivery costs that you now need to pay to receive the equipment. So or other reason that you need to do anything at all with the money you have "received".

DON'T!!!

Real companies don't make those sorts of mistakes and don't operate in these sorts of ways. If you send the money "from the check" ... the check-money will disappear and you will have sent your own money.

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While they might to try to steal money from you right away, this might also just be a way to prepare.

They ask you to do something weird - print a check - it clears, everything went well.

Next time they ask for something even more suspicious, but now you already trust them, so you do it.

This might go on for a while before the actual scamming happens.

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    And when things start collapsing and you need to deal with your own bank to straighten things out, you'll find out that some steps that you took were themselves fraudulent or contrary to bank policy. For instance, I expect most banks' terms for photo deposits require you to have the original cheque in hand bearing the original ink signature and watermarks and holograms, not a printout you did yourself.
    – Nimloth
    Nov 30, 2023 at 13:29
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You have been sent a bad check. This check will appear good for up to a month, and after that will be clawed back from your account.

You will be asked to pay for your own gear. This will involve paying some apparent 3rd party through some means for your gear. This transfer will be arranged in a way that you cannot claw it back. Maybe via cash, maybe via other means. The scammers will know a way.

Your check will bounce, you'll be out the money for the gear you bought, and the gear will either not arrive or be junk when it does arrive.

As an alternative, you'll be asked for some banking information. Maybe for a deposit. They'll use this to make a fake check and try a similar scam on someone else. You'll be hit with bad checks and identity theft have to fight the bank about it.

Any phone number you have from any communication in the mail or email or the like was a fake one. If you talked to the bank on the phone and you didn't do it by completely independently finding that phone number for a bank you knew existed before this scam started, you didn't talk to a real bank.

If you did talk to a real bank, they told you that the check had cleared. But they are not bound by that, and the check is going to be designed to appear good for a long time before they find out it is bad. These guys are professionals, check clearing scams are old as mud.

The bank doesn't care, because they will get the money back from you.


To check if something is a scam

  1. Only call phone numbers you find independently.

  2. Don't trust anything they name, unless you know of it independently. Escrow, delivery company, bank - if they name it, assume it isn't trustworthy.

  3. Physical presence. These type of scams rely on mass interaction and pseudo-anonymity. They are far less lucrative if they have to meet the people in person.

  4. Refuse to act as a clearing house for other people's money. In an employment situation, money should flow towards you and only towards you. If they want to pay for something to send you, refuse to pay for it and get reimbursed for it. Money flows towards the worker, never away.

There are very, very, very few legitimate situations where you should spend money and get reimbursed for it in a new employment situation. And there are many, many, many scams based on it.

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They most likely want your bank account number. This way they can try to fake authorize a continuous payment. It could also be the first step in the scam, following up with letting you pay a single penny or something to authorize this.

Coincidentally, I received a similar message in Whatsapp yesterday and a coworker of mine just mentioned the same thing happening to her. It seems like there's a wave of these scams going on all of the sudden.

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    More likely the other attacks already discussed, since they are irreversible if caught. Unauthorized transactions can be dealt with.
    – keshlam
    Nov 30, 2023 at 15:26
  • Yes, but it's safer legally, and some victims might not take action or too late, which will still get the scammers 'paid'.
    – paddotk
    Nov 30, 2023 at 15:32

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