The seller was suspicious and asked a teller at his bank (twice) to verify the check and was told it was good. Here is what happened next as Caroline Mayer reports:
"Four days later, as he reviewed his account online, he discovered the check was not good. Even worse, the bank was demanding that he repay the $5,000."
"Had I made the deposit and not tried to make sure it was legitimate, I should have full obligation to make good on it," said Schaefer, 34, a facilities manager in Brattleboro, Vt. "But I checked with the bank twice, and now I find out they have no accountability."
"Schaefer is one of thousands of consumers who have been victimized by an increasingly common check scam that relies on the vagaries of the banking system to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers."
"Federal rules require banks to release funds from a consumer's deposit quickly, usually within one to five business days, depending on the kind of check. However, it can take weeks before a bank discovers a check is fraudulent."
Full story, link here.
This is a typical advance fee scam, where counterfeit checks, or money orders are used to dupe a seller.
So far, as the bank involved, I would recommend that they do a little "fraud awareness training" with their tellers to protect their customers from getting ripped off. Counterfeit checks often use good account numbers, which can be deceptive.
In my experience, the best way to verify a check is to contact the issuer of the item. If the check is counterfeit, or a forgery, laws in most areas allow it to be charged back for a year, or more.
And that is a long time to wait!