Saturday, June 16, 2007

Will counterfeit Visa Traveler Cheques be the latest bogus financial instrument spread in Internet Scams?

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Counterfeit Visa Travelers Cheques -- so far seen in $500.00 denominations -- are starting to appear in different parts of the United States.

In the past few years, counterfeit U.S. Postal Money Orders, MoneyGram Money Orders, and American Express Gift Cheques have all been circulated by Internet fraud activity.

If history repeats itself, we will see counterfeit Visa Travelers Cheques show up outside the United States, also.

These instruments have been passed in a lot of work-at-home (job) scams. They are also passed in secret shopper, romance, lottery and auction scams.

These advance fee (419) type scams all have a common theme. A lure (scam) -- which plays on greed is offered to entice someone into cashing these items -- and wiring the money back to the fraudster behind the scheme.

The lure (scam) is always too good to be true and makes no sense.

Since it is against the law to pass a counterfeit financial instrument, people are sometimes arrested when they present these items. Even if they aren't arrested, they are held liable, when the fraud is discovered.

Unfortunately, banks often give credit to their customers on these items. Tellers have even told their customers the items are legitimate, which doesn't make any difference (for the customer) when they return. Of course, the bank isn't liable for any of this.

These items are also being presented to merchants. Retail criminals use them to purchase items, get the balance in cash, then refund the merchandise. Of course, if they are unable to refund the items, they will probably try to get gift cards or fence the merchandise. There is a lot of stolen merchandise being fenced (pretty easily) on Internet auction sites.

Intelligence indicates these many of these items are being printed overseas, then distributed in bulk, worldwide. Once received in bulk, they are broken down and distributed to the criminals, who then use them in the manners listed above.

Visa recommends that you do the following to verify if one of the Travelers Cheques are real:

Can you see a watermark in the cheque?

Can you see the holographic thread embedded in the cheque?

Is the customer present?

Have the cheques been countersigned in your presence?

Does the original signature match the countersignature?

Has valid identification been presented and the details recorded along with the customer name on the back of the cheques?

If you are suspicious, you can call them at 1-800-227-6811 to verify an item. This can also be done on-line, here.Visa also has a good interactive tool to identify the security features of the Visa Travelers Cheque, here.

Here are some of my previous posts on counterfeit instruments circulating via the Internet:

Counterfeit MoneyGram Money Orders being passed via Internet Scams

Counterfeit Cashier's Checks Fuel Internet Crime

American Express Gift Cheques Being Circulated in Internet Scams

Counterfeit Postal Money Orders Showing Up in IScams Again

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