HSBC Tells You To Cash An Obviously Fake Check

Over at InfoWorld they have a story from a guy who was trying to sell something on Craigslist, and because he is savvy in the ways of the internet, did not fall for an obvious “overpayment scheme.”

(In an “overpayment scheme” you agree to sell an item for a small amount of money like, $75, to a scammer posing as an interested customer. The scammer sends you a fake check for a large amount of money, then asks you to send back the difference. You do it, and the check turns out to be fake. Old as the hills.)

“The check was drawn against HSBC bank,” the reader wrote. “I called their support line and explained the situation. They told me to deposit the check and see if it cleared. I asked ‘Let me get this straight. I know the check is fake. You know it’s fake. Yet you are telling me to deposit it and commit a felony?’ ‘Well sir,’ they said ‘we can’t tell you if it’s fake or not until you deposit it.’ ‘I know it’s fake. I’ve told you it’s fake. Someone is creating counterfeit checks drawn on your bank.’ ‘Sir, we can’t know that until you deposit it.’ Pathetic.”

The reader then tried to report the fraud to the company whose account information was faked on the check – a New York City foreign exchange dealer, not all of whom are above suspicion themselves. “I was told pretty much the same thing by them – I should go ahead and try to cash it. What the heck is going on? Supposedly these people are concerned with check fraud and theft, yet they tell me to break the law by trying to cash a fake check!”

InfoWorld’s reader tries (in vain) to get anyone at Craigslist or HSBC to help him catch the scammer.

I spent almost an hour on the phone with the bank and the rep for the foreign exchange outfit. Neither really gave a damn. Now I’m wondering who’s the bigger fool — the person who falls for these scams, or the person who tries to fight back.”

Fighting back doesn’t make you a fool, but you shouldn’t bother trying to report a crime as a customer service issue. Check fraud is a crime and HSBC is a bank.

To report a check fraud crime, contact your local FBI field office. For example, if you are in Chicago, you would call the Chicago Division Headquarters at (312) 421-6700. It might not turn into an episode of Law & Order or anything, but you’ll know that you’ve done your best.

Cash Fraudulent Check, Says HSBC [Info World]