Credit Union Reports Check Fraud Surge
The $150 million Priority One Credit Union, headquartered in South Pasadena, Calif., said it wants to warn credit unions across the country about attempted fraud on its cashier's checks.
Charles Wiggington, CEO of the 26,000-member credit union, reported 12 counterfeit cashier's checks had been presented for payment since the first of May. The counterfeit checks are printed on check paper and carry the old CU Swirl logo, which has since been replaced by the CO-OP Shared Branching logo.
“We're members of FSCC [Financial Service Centers Cooperative] and think the original check they are counterfeiting is about a year to 18 months old,” Wiggington said.
He added that the outdated logo, along with the checks not being presented in proper sequence, tipped off the credit union before they could be paid.
Wiggington reported the credit union also discovered a letter accompanied the checks and the fraud appears to be a variation on the mystery shopper scam.
The letter to the victim informs them that they have been chosen as part of a mystery shopper program, and the cashier's check funds should be used to buy goods and services, as well as Western Union wire transfers. The victim was then expected to send to the funds to the fraudster along with a report about their shopping experience.
When the check comes up counterfeit, the victim loses whatever money he or she has sent, and the credit union is out any money on checks it mistakenly paid.
Wiggington said most of the 12 counterfeit checks were sent to victims in California, but at least one came from as far away as Iowa.
The credit union notified authorities about the counterfeits, he said.
“We just wanted to alert credit unions to the risks of these checks,” Wiggington said, adding that the amounts on the checks had been increasing, from roughly $1800 at first to more than $2400 recently.