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My girlfriend has a bank account that is on hold because of a stolen debit card number. She recently signed a contract for 90k but has the first check in my name for 60k. She is stuck in London for a bit and we need the money. She went to send the check and wherever she went said that she needed to insure it for 3600 bucks. Money we dont have.

So I have two questions.

  1. Does she have to ensure the check in order to send it? And or can she just send it in a pre paid envelope?
  2. When I get this check in my name and deposit it to my bank, will this cause some kind of red flag?
  • To answer you second question what country and what is your nationality or more importantly your tax country/status. – Dheer Jun 12 '15 at 5:08
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    Can't she just put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it? Where did she go to send it? – littleadv Jun 12 '15 at 5:09
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    I keep rereading the question looking for the flag that says it is a scam. Large check, stuck in London, money to insure the check, the use of the term bucks implies international aspect... – mhoran_psprep Jun 12 '15 at 10:56
  • Why go to all the trouble of mailing the check/cheque? Can't she just go to a branch of your bank and deposit it into your account? – brhans Jun 12 '15 at 13:04
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    Your girlfriend signed a contract for 90k, they paid 60k up front and put it in your name? I hope the contract is for the London Bridge, because this is almost certainly a scam and if you are going to lose $3600 you might as well get a nice bridge out of it. – BrianH Jun 15 '15 at 17:32
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A cheque/check is just a piece of paper. There's nothing whatsoever stopping her from sticking it in an envelope, putting a stamp on it and sending it via the regular post.

The important question is what happens if it goes astray? How easy would it be for her to stop and replace the check? How easy is it for a dishonest party to deposit the check elsewhere?

It sounds like the people quoting you a high price to insure are treating the check as being as good as cash - if that's true then you'd be taking a big risk sending it uninsured. On the other hand if it's not true and the check is easily replaceable and essentially worthless to anyone other than you then there would seem to be no need to insure it in transit.

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Probably she asked for some kind of registered delivery, someone asked her, "what are the contents worth?", in order to get a number to put into the insurance calculator, and she said "$60000".

If that's true, meaning that if the letter goes astray, you can't get a new one issued, then yes you should insure it to the value of $60000 (or rather, since the insurance is so much, you should not post it at all. Your girlfriend could perhaps return it to her client and agree with them another way to transfer money). I'm also not sure what happens when a letter hits US customs with a declared value of $60000!

However, it's probably not true. This is a check (or, if drawn on a bank here in the UK, a cheque), not a bearer bond. If it goes missing then (with some trouble and expense) she can almost certainly get another one issued. So the correct answer to "what's this worth?" is the cost of replacing it, not the amount of money that it instructs the bank to transfer.

As for whether it'll cause a red flag for you, I'm afraid I don't know enough about US banking to say. Here in the UK there should be no problem with a cheque for that amount, unless one of the banks involved has reason to suspect money laundering or related financial crime, in which case they're required to report it. But if the cheque is from a non-US account and you're paying it into your US account, then maybe you need to make a customs declaration?

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Once upon a time (not all that long ago), British cheques used to say something like "Pay to the order of ..,,,, or bearer the sum of ...,.." (emphasis added) and could be cashed by anyone unless the cheque-writer drew two parallel lines in the upper left corner of the cheque. These lines converted the instrument into a crossed cheque which could only be deposited into a bank account of the payee; a bearer of the cheque could not walk into the bank and waltz out with the cash equivalent. Perhaps British banks no longer use this styling (Indian banks still do) but if that cheque for 60k is not a crossed cheque, it better be sent securely with lots of insurance. An uncrossed cheque is the same as cash since it can be cashed by anyone.

That being said, I am with @mhoran_psprep in thinking that all this is just a scam with the OP (mug) being asked to send 3600 bucks to "girlfriend" (scammer) to cover the cost of sending the check with full insurance, and when the check arrives and is deposited by OP into his bank, it will turn out to be a dud, and "girlfriend" will be long gone. The description of how the girlfriend signed a contract for 90k and received 60k of this amount upfront, but in the form of a check payable to boyfriend (!) OP reeks of scam; is this scenario realistic? In the past, I have received offers (usually from Nigeria) from "women" wanting to be my girlfriend, and I am sure that such offers will continue to come in the future....

  • I agree. Also, out of interest, British cheques these days are automatically crossed, as in the parallel lines are pre-printed and there is no longer the option to deposit a cheque into an account other than the one named on the cheque. – Vicky Jun 14 '15 at 7:31
  • You say "the cheque writer drew two parallel lines in the upper left corner of the cheque". If the cheque is "uncrossed", what would prevent the person receiving the cheque from marking the 2 lines on the cheque to convert it to a "crossed" cheque? – Kevin Fegan Jun 21 '15 at 9:16
  • @KevinFegan Nothing prevents a recipient from drawing two lines to convert an uncrossed cheque to a crossed cheque, and an intended recipient can certainly do so. But, once an uncrossed cheque leaves the custody of the check-writer, anyone who has possession of the cheque can play the role of "Bearer" and can cash it. Such a "Bearer" would, of course, not cross the cheque before presenting it to a teller for payment, and the teller would not demand identification either. – Dilip Sarwate Jun 21 '15 at 11:28
  • @KevinFegan Late comment following link from elsewhere: "back in the day" if someone received an uncrossed cheque, they may "cross" it themselves if they were posting it to their bank to be paid in, so that if it got lost/stolen in the post, it could no longer be diverted "to bearer". – TripeHound Sep 8 '17 at 10:52
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No you do not insure the cheque. A cheque is just standardized form that instructs a bank to transfer money. It is no more important than an ordinary letter.

A cheque carries no commercial value, especially when it has a designated recipient. No mail insurance will cover the financial loss as a result of bank fraud. It is a kind of indirect loss.

Just tell her to write your account number at the back of the paper, walk into your bank's branch and tell the teller to deposit it. There is no need of mailing.

  • "I don't see how a cheque could clear" -- the cheque isn't written by her, it's written by her client/employer as a payment on a $90k contract that she has made with them. It's payable to the questioner. That's why it can clear despite her account being locked: her account isn't involved. The client should transfer the money to the questioner :-) – Steve Jessop Jun 12 '15 at 12:57

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