ActionFraud - National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre - Call 0300 123 2040

Cheque overpayment fraud

What it is

When someone gives you a cheque that they know you can’t cash.

The cheque has been made or tampered with in a way that the bank will reject it. You’re left out of pocket for whatever you gave away for the cheque.

Protect yourself

  • Only accept cheques from people you know and trust.
  • Ask for a different means of payment if it involves a lot of money.
  • Always use a pen when writing a cheque. Write clearly and put a line through any empty spaces.

Spot the signs

  • Something’s suspicious with a cheque you’re given, such as the way it’s written or the look and feel of the cheque itself.
  • You’ve been given a cheque for a greater amount than agreed and you’re asked for change.
  • A cheque should clear with the money in your account after the sixth working day. Nothing is assumed before that.

How it happens

Fraudsters may use one of many different ways of making a bogus cheque payment. The money promise in their cheque won’t appear in your account, so they can take goods, cash or services from you without paying you in return.

They may use a counterfeit cheque, which has been made up by the fraudster to look real, or a forged cheque, which is genuine but stolen from somebody else with their signature faked.

Alternatively they could give you a cheque that’s been altered in some way, such as tampering with security features, that may make it look fine to you but will be rejected by the bank. In some cases, they may use disappearing ink when writing the cheque so the value or signature has vanished by the time your bank processes it.

You could end up losing even more money by overpayment. This is when someone pays you or your business using a fake cheque that’s written out for more than the agreed value. They’ll give you an excuse for writing the cheque for the additional amount and ask you to send them back the difference.

If you give the change back to the fraudster in cash, the cheque bounces and the fraudster breaks off all contact. Fraudsters often use this cheque overpayment techniques for bogus job opportunities or for selling on classified adverts.

How to report it

Report it to us online or call 0300 123 2040.

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