Counterfeiting is a replication of a document, check, money order, cashiers check, currency, etc. Counterfeiters duplicate corporate and payroll checks, traveler's checks, credit cards, certified bank checks, money orders, currency, and other negotiable instruments, as well as personal identification. They usually are well-versed in the use of personal computers, especially in the field of desktop publishing.
· Today's computer technology makes it relatively simple to counterfeit checks. A counterfeiting operation requires only a laser scanner to capture the image of an original check, a personal computer to make changes, and a quality laser printer to produce the bogus check. The necessary equipment can be obtained for less than $5,000.
· Once an original check has been scanned, its data can be manipulated and reprinted with ease. Still, the counterfeiter faces the tough challenges of matching the paper stock used by the check manufacturer; correlating complex color schemes, such as those used on U.S. Government and traveler's checks; and overcoming some of the counterfeiting safeguards currently used by legitimate check printers.
· Yet, counterfeiters can overcome even these hurdles without much difficulty. A number of unscrupulous printers throughout the country offer preprinted checks containing whatever information the customer desires, without bank confirmation or concurrence. Further, today's computers can come very close to duplicating even the most complex color schemes and check safeguards. A counterfeiter's success hinges on knowing that most checks will not be scrutinized closely enough to detect the fraud until they have been cashed and cleared through the banking system.
Document Alteration is any unauthorized change in the check that attempts to modify the obligations of a party to the instrument.
- Amount of the check
- Date of its issuance
- Name of the payee
Methods of Alteration
New technologies give check fraud perpetrators a wide variety of schemes and devices for committing their crimes.
Chemical techniques and computers provide the primary means by which criminals manipulate and counterfeit checks.
Legitimate personal checks can be changed easily by chemical means. Similarly, someone well-versed in manipulation
techniques can modify corporate checks, traveler's checks, bank checks, and U.S. Government checks with minimal effort.
Chemical alteration is commonly referred to as "check washing." Check washers use a variety of acid-based chemical
solutions to erase amount and payee information, while maintaining the integrity of the preprinted information.
They then dry the check and inscribe a new payee and a significantly higher dollar amount before presenting it to a bank for payment.
One acid-based solution even allows criminals to revise a check and subsequently destroy the evidence.
In this instance, the check washers must move quickly because the chemical solution causes the paper to disintegrate within
24 hours, leaving no supporting evidence of the transaction.
A forgery is committed when an unauthorized person signs your name to a check or legal document and you suffer a monetary loss.
How to protect yourself from counterfeiting/alteration/forgeries
Never discard old checks in the garbage. Shred them!
Never leave checks in your mailbox.
Collect your mail immediately and deposit outgoing mail in a secure mailbox, or give it directly to your letter carrier
Check your bank statements carefully, and notify your bank and your local law enforcement agency immediately if you see checks that you did not write
If you order personal checks, and you do not receive them in a timely manner, immediately call your bank and verify that they were shipped to you.
Encourage your local merchants to check identification and obtain a thumbprint whenever they accept a personal check.
If you feel you have been a victim of counterfeiting/alteration/forgeries:
- Contact your bank and close your accounts that you know have been tampered with. Complete required bank affidavits
- File a police report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime
Review your accounts for unauthorized activity
Once you discover that you're a victim, keep accurate records of all telephone calls made and the steps you take to correct the situation.
If someone is forging checks in your name, there may be a warrant for your arrest. Check with your local State Attorney's Office 2-3 months after you've been victimized. Repeat this in 6 months. If a warrant has been issued, notify your local State Attorney's Office and law enforcement agency.