Bogus checks connected to up-front fee scams

Counterfeit cashier’s checks using the routing number from an Arizona bank are being presented for payment nationwide in connection with “a variety of up-front fee scams,” the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) warned Friday.

In a wide-ranging notice, the comptroller said the BNC National Bank of Glendale, Ariz., had reported that at least two variations of counterfeit cashier’s checks had been presented in connection with the scams. The checks use the bank’s vendor routing number of 09200541. All checks presented to date have been made payable in varying amounts up to $10,000, the OCC said.

Among the scams connected to the phony checks, according to the comptroller, are:

  • Secret Shopper—Money Transfer Service: Potential victim are sent a counterfeit check and told to deposit the funds into his or her bank account. The individual is then instructed to retain a small portion of the deposited funds as payment. The remaining amount is to be used for a small purchase at a well-known department store, with the majority of funds to be used to survey the services of a money transfer service.
  • Secret Shoppers—Gift Card: Potential victims are sent a counterfeit check and told to deposit the funds into his or her bank account. The individual is then instructed to retain a small portion of the deposited funds as a commission; $30 is to be used to make a small purchase at a well-known department store, with the majority of the funds to be used to purchase a number of gift cards. Once the cards are purchased, the potential victim is then instructed to send photographs of the card numbers to the scammers.
  • Online Auction: Potential victims have posted items for sale in an online auction and are sent as payment a counterfeit check in an amount greater than the price of the item for sale. The scammer instructs the seller to deposit the funds into his or her bank account and immediately wire the overpayment portion to a third party.

Two variations of the bogus checks have been identified, according to the OCC, which are:

Variation 1:

  • The check is light blue in color with a marbled background.
  • The check contains a dark top border with the following security statement: “TO VERIFY AUTHENTICITY, SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR DESCRIPTION OF THE 13 SECURITY FEATURES.”
  • A heat-sensitive shield is located in the bottom center portion of the check.
  • The check does not contain the bank’s telephone number of (701) 250-3000.
  • The authorized signature appears as Clark Cooper or Heidi Schwantes.
  • Remitter names may appear as Annette Blair, David Brandon, Raymond W. Hale, Hilbert McNeal, Donald Mitchell, Gary Moore, David A. Peter, Alfred E. Taylor, or Timothy White.

Variation 2:

  • The check is light blue in color with a marbled background.
  • The check contains a dark top border with the following security statement: “THIS DOCUMENT HAS A COLORED BACKGROUND AND MICROPRINTING. THE REVERSE SIDE INCLUDES AN ARTIFICIAL WATERMARK.”
  • The authorized signature appears as Michael Jackson or Heidi Schwantes.
  • Remitter names may appear as Sissy M. Lundstorm or Alfred E. Taylor.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks of BNC National Bank, Glendale, Ariz.

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