Watervliet couple gets some money back after falling victim to check fraud scam

Watervliet couples gets half of the money stolen from them

Rebecca and William White are victims of the overpayment scam. A thief left them thousands of dollars in debt.

13Investigates introduced you to Rebecca and William White; a family who lost $4,150 to a check scam that not many people know about.

Scammers will go to great lengths to get your money by making their scheme believable using innocent people and businesses, the FBI said.

Now, 13Investigates is learning a higher-up at Broadview called the Whites just days after the I-Team started looking into the case. The Whites said they got half their money back. Broadview is working with Venmo to get the remaining $2,000 back. 

A check fraud expert looked at the bogus check given to the White family. He said there was one critical clue that gave it away.

“It looked very legitimate, but if you look closely, the return address was San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio was misspelled. Check printers are not going to do that.”

San Antonio had the letter “X” at the end of it.

Greg Litster is a career banker and president of SAFEChecks, a company made to manufacture high-security checks.

Litster works alongside Frank Abagnale to design the checks. You may know Abagnale’s story from the movie, “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Abagnale is one of the most well-known con men in America, who now helps the government and businesses against fraud.

Litster said nowadays, it can be hard to identify real checks from the fake ones 

“They steal the check out of the mail, they scan that check. They just recreate the words on it. Keep the signature/retain the signature in digital form and then print it out on entirely different blank check stocks they bought online,” he said. 

Even Shane Shoemaker, Broadview’s Vice President of Crimes, said counterfeit checks are extremely common. They’ve been around for at least 20 years.

“Most checks that are presented these days that are counterfeit are incredibly good. For a lack of a better term, they’re near perfect.” 

But not always. 

Shoemaker noticed the same mistake on a bogus check Rebecca and William White were given, he said.

“There’s maybe, possibly an extra letter on one word,” Shoemaker said. “Aside from that, this is a very good item…a lot of the security features that you’d expect to see on a check are here with the various colored backgrounds, watermarks, and pro printing.”

The Whites own a small painting business and say they lost $4,150 when a supposed customer messaged them to have work done on a new home in Albany.

Before the first coat of paint was even rolled on a wall, the Whites realized they’d been duped and given a fake check. However, the Whites went to a Broadview teller. They say it went through without being flagged.

“I can’t speak to any specifics of this case, but in general, when checks are presented to any financial institution there is no way, unless the check is drawn off of us, that we can just easily find out whether or not it’s a legitimate check. We talked about how checks are used regularly. There’s a very high volume of checks. It’s not possible for any institution to verify the legitimacy of every check that they process.”

There are some red flags that everyone should know about this check fraud scam, commonly known as the overpayment scam.

  1. Tell your bank everything about why you have the check and where it came from.
  2. Litster said once a check goes through, make sure to wait an additional three business days before spending the money. “Just because the money showed up in your account and there’s no hold on it, that doesn’t mean the check you deposited is cleared,” he said.
  3. Litster said you can return your check in a certain time frame. “Once it hits your account, you must return it by the next business day at midnight or you cannot return it,” he said. “You want to be looking at your bank statements every day.”
  4. Don’t ever send money to someone you’ve never met before.
  5. Anyone who wants to pay you more money than what was agreed is most likely a red flag.