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Noodle To Nathan - And Why I Love My Bank


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#1 amberleadavis

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:34

About six months ago, I had lost a check. Yes. Lost. Between the parking lot and the teller window. Less than 100 feet. The check was GONE. A $4000 check had vanished. I put a stop payment on the check and haven't thought about it much since. Imagine my surprise last month when the bank manager calls me in to come in to the local branch right away because they need me to confirm (or deny) my signature. I arrive and the branch manager and two police officers are waiting at my branch. The officers ask me if I wrote check number ####, on account ##### and had stopped payment on the check. I told them that I had done so. They showed me a faxed copy of a check that appeared to be my check, with my signature, but not for the amount or to whom the payment was authorized. I tell the officers that I did not know the person listed on the check and I did not authorize that amount of payment. I signed a few papers, and the police left. Baffled, I looked at the branch manager and asked what had happened.

So here's the story I heard....

Seems that some Low Lifes have been hitting the lockboxes on the offices of apartment and property managers. The Low Lifes then alter the checks and then deposit them in another account that they have acquired, drain the funds from that account and walk away with lots of money that doesn't belong to them.

These Low Lifes target a victim with a good credit history that also banked with my local bank. The person reviewing the deposits to that account, saw my check (drawn on the same bank) and became concerned. Seems that my use of Noodler's Warden's Ink paid off. Because the Low Lifes tried to alter my check - whatever they used, whatever they tried - tipped off the bank. The targeted victim didn't end up victimized and the original check writers were saved too!! Hooray!!

The bank manager didn't know what exactly about my check tipped off the first person reviewing the deposits. She told me that my check would no longer read through the MICR system (magnetic encoding) and once the reviewer typed in my number the check came up as stolen so the entire deposit was tripped. I can say that the fax looked "off" - meaning that the date and signature appeared to be one color or shade of gray and the payee and amounts didn't appear to match. Beyond that observation about the shades from the fax, I can't say.

I still haven't been subpoenaed as a witness and the last time I went to the bank, I was told that the case was closed. I've been wanting to know what made the reviewer take notice, but hey, I'm just glad my bank actually looks at the deposits!

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Edited by amberleadavis, 30 April 2012 - 04:37.

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#2 paulturtle92

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:45

Noodler's Warden's Inks are perfect for checks and the sort. I always keep one pen inked with Bad Belted Kingfisher for signing stuff. But wouldn't the bank have been tipped off when they scanned the MICR? I'd have thought that the system would automatically recognize your check number as stolen once the number was entered into the system.

An oddity, though: all banks, government offices and the sort here do NOT allow me to use my FP w/ blue black, they say they "want to photocopy it, so you must only use black" and proffer me a disposable ballpoint. :bonk: However, all legal contracts are signed in blue only, so I'm not sure where they're coming from.

#3 Scribblesoften

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:46

Excellent story. I'm glad to hear that your bank has observant staff.

#4 79spitfire

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:04

They copied the check with the signature, that's why it didn't read the magnetic numbers. The fact that the Warden's ink didn't copy the same is why it looked different. Good job to Nathan and the bank for stopping what turned out to be an obvious case of fraud!

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#5 Cerbeos

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:30

I've been on the fence about getting a pen and ink for specifically this purpose -- Looks like you've made my mind up for me!


Glad everything worked out for you!
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#6 Ink Stained Wretch

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:15

About six months ago, I had lost a check. Yes. Lost. Between the parking lot and the teller window. Less than 100 feet. The check was GONE. A $4000 check had vanished.

So had you dropped it at an inopportune time, just when the thieves were present and they picked it up?

So here's the story I heard....

Seems that some Low Lifes have been hitting the lockboxes on the offices of apartment and property managers. The Low Lifes then alter the checks and then deposit them in another account that they have acquired, drain the funds from that account and walk away with lots of money that doesn't belong to them.

These Low Lifes target a victim with a good credit history that also banked with my local bank. The person reviewing the deposits to that account, saw my check (drawn on the same bank) and became concerned. Seems that my use of Noodler's Warden's Ink paid off. Because the Low Lifes tried to alter my check - whatever they used, whatever they tried - tipped off the bank. The targeted victim didn't end up victimized and the original check writers were saved too!! Hooray!!

The bank manager didn't know what exactly about my check tipped off the first person reviewing the deposits. She told me that my check would no longer read through the MICR system (magnetic encoding) and once the reviewer typed in my number the check came up as stolen so the entire deposit was tripped. I can say that the fax looked "off" - meaning that the date and signature appeared to be one color or shade of gray and the payee and amounts didn't appear to match. Beyond that observation about the shades from the fax, I can't say.

I still haven't been subpoenaed as a witness and the last time I went to the bank, I was told that the case was closed. I've been wanting to know what made the reviewer take notice, but hey, I'm just glad my bank actually looks at the deposits!

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Yeah, I'm still using Noodler's Black for all of my check signing. I'm hoping that it's still good enough. How many of the thieves are going to go after a check from an ordinary person with lasers? I do have a bottle of Bad Belted Kingfisher though, so if I had to I could switch to that for all check signing. I have a lot more Noodler's Black though.

Glad to hear the ink saved you from a lot of bother.

Noodler's Warden's Inks are perfect for checks and the sort. I always keep one pen inked with Bad Belted Kingfisher for signing stuff. But wouldn't the bank have been tipped off when they scanned the MICR? I'd have thought that the system would automatically recognize your check number as stolen once the number was entered into the system.

An oddity, though: all banks, government offices and the sort here do NOT allow me to use my FP w/ blue black, they say they "want to photocopy it, so you must only use black" and proffer me a disposable ballpoint. :bonk: However, all legal contracts are signed in blue only, so I'm not sure where they're coming from.

I usually use black ink, as above, but I think I'd balk at the bank telling me what color ink I must use to sign my check. It's probably mostly ignorance that they're operating out of, I suspect.
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#7 MrsGouletPens

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:42

That is awesome!! Go Noodler's!

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#8 Cerbeos

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:43

I usually use black ink, as above, but I think I'd balk at the bank telling me what color ink I must use to sign my check. It's probably mostly ignorance that they're operating out of, I suspect.


Agreed - it is after all, YOUR check. I've never heard any complaints from my bank regarding how I've signed for a check.
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#9 inkstainedruth

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 13:06

Interesting story. I've been using Diamine Registrars Blue-Black for check signing recently, but was considering trying Noodler's Kung Te Cheng (depending on whether it looked more blue-violet or indigo (the scans I've seen in the Ink Reviews forum seem to vary) -- ESPECIALLY after seeing amberleadavis' exhaustive and amazing UV endurance tests.
My sister-in-law's husband used to run a bookstore in New York City. Ed once told me the story about how the one of the first consumer-advocate TV reporters did a story in front of the bookstore about fraudulent checks and how banks didn't pay enough attention to signatures and such, after the bookstore had had some problems with bad checks. Apparently part of the report included how the producers were able to cash checks endorsed by "Mickey Mouse" and the bank (one of the bigger ones, IIRC) didn't bat an eye.
My local bank will *not* cash checks if you don't have an account with them (and have signs to that effect clearly visible. Recently, I was cashing a check that my mother-in-law had sent my husband, so we'd have cash for our trip. I had to provide proof of ID and show her my checkbook (and the teller KNEW me) and then co-sign the back of the check, even though he had already signed it at home (normally previously signed checks just get deposited into our account).
Glad to see that this story had a happy ending -- I'm always nervous when carrying large amounts of cash or big checks like that (for checks I nearly always am depositing them, and make sure I write "For Deposit Only" on the back when I'm signing them).
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#10 VillersCotterets

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 13:48

An oddity, though: all banks, government offices and the sort here do NOT allow me to use my FP w/ blue black, they say they "want to photocopy it, so you must only use black" and proffer me a disposable ballpoint. :bonk: However, all legal contracts are signed in blue only, so I'm not sure where they're coming from.


I get a different story here. I was asked to NOT use black ink because it looks like a printed or a photocopied signature. With blue-black ink, it's more obvious which signature is the original and which is only a copy. Also, I was told customers are asked to sign with disposable ballpoints because they require you to press hard on the paper, leaving a groove. It's hard for the bank to tell apart a signature printed with a jet ink printer from a fountain pen as both don't dent the paper. Finally, some branches and services use a colour code : red for cancelled checks, violet for supervisor's notes, green for approvals , etc.

Edited by VillersCotterets, 30 April 2012 - 13:50.


#11 DoctorZhivago

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 14:11

...

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Thank you for posting your experience. It's a welcome counter to the posts that claim there's no point in using bulletproof or tamper-evident ink on checks.

#12 DoctorZhivago

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 14:11

...

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Thank you for posting your experience. It's a welcome refutation of the posts that claim there's no point in using bulletproof or tamper-evident ink on checks.

#13 VillersCotterets

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 14:15

I had also a friend who's job was to spot fraudulent transactions on behalf of a pharmaceutical governmental agency. He used statistical analysis extensively to identify suspicious transactions. He used about 50 different parameters : essentially where and when the transaction occurred, for what amount and which type of drug, cross referenced with the patient medical records and those of the doctor whom prescribed the drug.

For instance, if you always renewed a prescription each first Monday of each month for a 15$ blood thinner at the X branch in city Y then suddenly a transaction was made for :
  • an incompatible drug (with adverse effect with the blood thinner)
  • for an amount a lot greater than 15$ + the normal price variation (say 10%)
  • at branch F at the other side of the country
  • just after you made your usual transaction, but too soon for you to drive to that other branch.
Then all the details would be immediately forwarded to the police.

Edited by VillersCotterets, 30 April 2012 - 14:20.


#14 fiberdrunk

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 14:17


...

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Thank you for posting your experience. It's a welcome refutation of the posts that claim there's no point in using bulletproof or tamper-evident ink on checks.


I so agree! As long as there are crooks, it's good to know Noodler's has our backs.
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#15 reval

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 14:20

As a side note: I did not know that checks are still so common in the US, I thought you were way ahead of us Europeans in plastic money/electronic banking. The last time I signed a check is probably over 10 years ago.



#16 welch

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 16:16


...

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Thank you for posting your experience. It's a welcome refutation of the posts that claim there's no point in using bulletproof or tamper-evident ink on checks.


This is an unpersuasive "refutation".

- If a customer puts a "stop" on check number 123, then the bank must not pay check number 123.

- If you don't know that a check has been stolen, and a crook changes the payee and the amount, you will see a cancelled check. Your bank is out the money because they did not spot the changes.

That's why check-fraud and "check washing" are so rare that bankers look puzzled when it is mentioned. Many years ago, there was a serious risk that thieves would steal corporate checks, usually at issuance. Now companies use a system called "positive pay", a file that goes to a bank listing who can be paid for each check. If you steal a corporate check, you can't cash it.
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#17 Cerbeos

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 17:07

That's why check-fraud and "check washing" are so rare that bankers look puzzled when it is mentioned. Many years ago, there was a serious risk that thieves would steal corporate checks, usually at issuance. Now companies use a system called "positive pay", a file that goes to a bank listing who can be paid for each check. If you steal a corporate check, you can't cash it.


Very interesting! Never thought of the idea of a 'positive pay' list. Glad they're starting to get things figured out haha!!
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#18 DoctorZhivago

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 00:44



...

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.

Thank you for posting your experience. It's a welcome refutation of the posts that claim there's no point in using bulletproof or tamper-evident ink on checks.


This is an unpersuasive "refutation".

- If a customer puts a "stop" on check number 123, then the bank must not pay check number 123.

- If you don't know that a check has been stolen, and a crook changes the payee and the amount, you will see a cancelled check. Your bank is out the money because they did not spot the changes.

That's why check-fraud and "check washing" are so rare that bankers look puzzled when it is mentioned. Many years ago, there was a serious risk that thieves would steal corporate checks, usually at issuance. Now companies use a system called "positive pay", a file that goes to a bank listing who can be paid for each check. If you steal a corporate check, you can't cash it.

It appears that the check appeared to have been tampered with, and that alerted the bank to find the stop order.

No one needs to be persuaded -- everyone can make his own choices. Since you are un-persuaded, I hope you'll continue to use fugitive inks.

As I recall, you've previously listed a long set of precautions you or your employer take to prevent water damage to documents and have cited those precautions as evidence that water resistant ink is unnecessary.

One cannot expect the same conditions to exist everywhere, with respect to either moisture exposure or various forms of fraud. Some of us will continue to find water and fraud resistance reassuring and even useful.

The refutation stands! Don't cry over anything you've written.

#19 amberleadavis

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 01:24

- If a customer puts a "stop" on check number 123, then the bank must not pay check number 123.

- If you don't know that a check has been stolen, and a crook changes the payee and the amount, you will see a cancelled check. Your bank is out the money because they did not spot the changes.

That's why check-fraud and "check washing" are so rare that bankers look puzzled when it is mentioned. Many years ago, there was a serious risk that thieves would steal corporate checks, usually at issuance. Now companies use a system called "positive pay", a file that goes to a bank listing who can be paid for each check. If you steal a corporate check, you can't cash it.



Absolutely, I wouldn't have had to pay for the bank cashing check 123. But did you know that stop payments are only good for one year? BUT the scam they were perpetrating wasn't really about my check. (Someone just picked up my check). The scam wasn't even about corporate checks. The scam involved lots of individual checks for less than $500 each. It happened to be my check that alerted the teller.


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#20 Ghost Plane

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:00

FYI that same scam happened on this side of the country with apartment complex drop boxes. Apparently the actual target was money orders, which are easier to to alter and do not provide the same anti-theft protection to the purchaser as checks do. Any check alterations are usually in conjunction with the money order alteration process. Some poor folks here are out their rent twice as the original money order was stolen, so they still need to pay. :rolleyes:

#21 Chemyst

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:30

They showed me a faxed copy of a check that appeared to be my check, with my signature, but not for the amount or to whom the payment was authorized. I tell the officers that I did not know the person listed on the check and I did not authorize that amount of payment.

...

The bank manager didn't know what exactly about my check tipped off the first person reviewing the deposits. She told me that my check would no longer read through the MICR system (magnetic encoding) and once the reviewer typed in my number the check came up as stolen so the entire deposit was tripped.

...

Thanks Nathan for saving me oodles of money and aggravation.


While we're always glad to hear of Noodler's Ink being of use to people, it seems in this case it was your bank's diligence and the anti-counterfeiting properties of your check printer that saved you. From your description, the forgers overcame any features of the ink and succeeded in altering your check.

Did you ever get any more details on how specifically this was done? I'd be interested to hear either in this forum or via backchannel if you'd rather not advertise too widely.

TIA!

#22 amberleadavis

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:27

Through back doors, I've heard some scuttle...

The safety features of the check were worthless - I hadn't bought "safety" checks, though in the future, I'll be buying better checks. The amount of the original check was $4000, but they had marked it down to $400. Presumably to not flag the large amount.

I think Ghost Plane had the right idea. And this isn't an isolated incident, it's what we think of as an "Organized" activity.

The bank was diligent - I had been in to my local branch earlier that day about another issue and had showed off my TWSBI filed with BBKF. But it wasn't my local branch that caught the deposit. I think that the perpetrators actually made the deposit inside a branch and they intended to transfer the funds out at midnight with a check they had created on the account.

What the branch manager told me was that the ink was "wrong" and that "wrongness" was what made the teller actually stop and flip through the deposits and run them through the system. (Usually, the checks are batched through a clearing house). Because my deposit was on the same bank, the transaction would have showed as a transfer. Once my check came up stolen, the gig was up.

I don't know much more than that - which is a bummer because I'd love to talk to the teller (reviewer).

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#23 Chemyst

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:00

Through back doors, I've heard some scuttle...

The safety features of the check were worthless - I hadn't bought "safety" checks, though in the future, I'll be buying better checks.



From your initial description, it sounds like they worked as they should:

The bank manager didn't know what exactly about my check tipped off the first person reviewing the deposits. She told me that my check would no longer read through the MICR system (magnetic encoding) and once the reviewer typed in my number the check came up as stolen so the entire deposit was tripped.


Now, this bit is the troubling portion:

The amount of the original check was $4000, but they had marked it down to $400. Presumably to not flag the large amount.


How did they go about changing the payee and altering the amount if you were using the Warden line...

Edited by Chemyst, 01 May 2012 - 05:01.


#24 SamCapote

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:04


- If a customer puts a "stop" on check number 123, then the bank must not pay check number 123.

- If you don't know that a check has been stolen, and a crook changes the payee and the amount, you will see a cancelled check. Your bank is out the money because they did not spot the changes.

That's why check-fraud and "check washing" are so rare that bankers look puzzled when it is mentioned. Many years ago, there was a serious risk that thieves would steal corporate checks, usually at issuance. Now companies use a system called "positive pay", a file that goes to a bank listing who can be paid for each check. If you steal a corporate check, you can't cash it.



Absolutely, I wouldn't have had to pay for the bank cashing check 123. But did you know that stop payments are only good for one year? BUT the scam they were perpetrating wasn't really about my check. (Someone just picked up my check). The scam wasn't even about corporate checks. The scam involved lots of individual checks for less than $500 each. It happened to be my check that alerted the teller.



Amber, so the check you dropped had been made out to a particular party, for $4k and signed by you? Was it a personal or bank check? I was trying to figure out why you would have a personal check made out to someone while at the bank. And did the copy they showed you have a different check number put on it, as it seems that your stop payment for that number would have been the reason it got caught? I'm still trying to figure out what role the Noodler's ink played, if any. Just read more recent posts. You may not know enough to really be able to figure this out. It's still a great story.

I did not know that a stop payment was only good for a year. I wonder if that is a nationwide or individual bank policy.

welch, can you tell what likely happened in this case from what has been said so far? (welch is an expert on banking procedures)

To reval's earlier post, checks are still widely used in the USA. I sign at least 50-60 checks a month, most of those are put in the US Mail.

Edited by SamCapote, 01 May 2012 - 05:08.

With the new FPN rules, now I REALLY don't know what to put in my signature.

#25 79spitfire

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:08

Now, this bit is the troubling portion:


The amount of the original check was $4000, but they had marked it down to $400. Presumably to not flag the large amount.


How did they go about changing the payee and altering the amount if you were using the Warden line...

That's what made me think the whole check was copied, and the fact that the magnetic numbers didn't work.

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#26 raging.dragon

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:58



Now, this bit is the troubling portion:


The amount of the original check was $4000, but they had marked it down to $400. Presumably to not flag the large amount.


How did they go about changing the payee and altering the amount if you were using the Warden line...

That's what made me think the whole check was copied, and the fact that the magnetic numbers didn't work.


Sounds like they used at least a colour photocopier. Perhaps after using whiteout or some such on the original cheque. They may have even scanned the cheque, altered the scanned image, and then printed it.

EDIT: If so, the role played by the ink would have been forcing them to make a copy of the cheque (thus causing MICR to fail and triggering closer inspection) instead of simply altering the cheque.

Edited by raging.dragon, 01 May 2012 - 06:00.


#27 amberleadavis

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:28

Amber, so the check you dropped had been made out to a particular party, for $4k and signed by you? Was it a personal or bank check? I was trying to figure out why you would have a personal check made out to someone while at the bank.


Yes, the check was personal check. I was walking in to my bank to make a deposit and then having them make a cashier's check to my co-counsel so that I could take the cashier's check over to BofA to deposit into her account. I had the check in my possession when I was in the car, but did not have it when I got to see the teller. An exhaustive search of the car and my path did not reveal the check. The check was made out several months ago.


And did the copy they showed you have a different check number put on it, as it seems that your stop payment for that number would have been the reason it got caught?


No the check number was the same. The amount was written over. Like someone wrote over the "Four" but tried to write over the "Thousand" all of which was very strange. The stopped payment was what triggered a more in depth search.


I'm still trying to figure out what role the Noodler's ink played, if any. Just read more recent posts. You may not know enough to really be able to figure this out. It's still a great story.


I don't know exactly what was wrong. Remember, I only saw a faxed copy so I can't really say. I think that the person could not match the color when they wrote over the amount. But the Payee line did not say the name of my co-counsel and I know the name was definitely written in the payee line.


I did not know that a stop payment was only good for a year. I wonder if that is a nationwide or individual bank policy.


Hmm... I don't know, but it sure is irritating.


welch, can you tell what likely happened in this case from what has been said so far? (welch is an expert on banking procedures)

To reval's earlier post, checks are still widely used in the USA. I sign at least 50-60 checks a month, most of those are put in the US Mail.
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#28 amberleadavis

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:32



Now, this bit is the troubling portion:


The amount of the original check was $4000, but they had marked it down to $400. Presumably to not flag the large amount.


How did they go about changing the payee and altering the amount if you were using the Warden line...

That's what made me think the whole check was copied, and the fact that the magnetic numbers didn't work.


Sounds like they used at least a colour photocopier. Perhaps after using whiteout or some such on the original cheque. They may have even scanned the cheque, altered the scanned image, and then printed it.

EDIT: If so, the role played by the ink would have been forcing them to make a copy of the cheque (thus causing MICR to fail and triggering closer inspection) instead of simply altering the cheque.


Hmm... you have me there. I assumed it was the original because the fax had the rough edges like it was perforated. See that's what I get for assumptions.

And I wasn't sure that the magnetic numbers didn't work because the teller didn't have a working reader or because the MICR was not actually MICR. I'm a little fuzzy on that issue - I ass-umed the MICR didn't work but my hubby reminded me that he didn't recall the tellers having the MICR readers. Though the bank manager did say something about the MICR not reading.

Wow, this is a real example of why I should have written the entire event down in detail when it happened. What a lesson in Evidence.

Edited by amberleadavis, 01 May 2012 - 06:41.

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#29 amberleadavis

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:35


Through back doors, I've heard some scuttle...

The safety features of the check were worthless - I hadn't bought "safety" checks, though in the future, I'll be buying better checks.



From your initial description, it sounds like they worked as they should:


I compare the fax I saw to the checks I receive. When I try and scan or copy a check, the copies of the better safety checks are marked "VOID". I just had the cheapo checks. The next time I buy checks, I think I'll spring for the ones that aren't easily copied.

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#30 nickapos

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 08:49

What the branch manager told me was that the ink was "wrong" and that "wrongness" was what made the teller actually stop and flip through the deposits and run them through the system. (Usually, the checks are batched through a clearing house). Because my deposit was on the same bank, the transaction would have showed as a transfer. Once my check came up stolen, the gig was up.

I don't know much more than that - which is a bummer because I'd love to talk to the teller (reviewer).

There are a number of characteristics a bank employee should check before cashing out a check. Ink differences, different writing character in different parts of the same check, unclear signatures etc.
In the case of cashing out a check and not funding it through a loan, your check would be blocked anyway since the banking system does not allow a blocked check to be cashed out by default.
If the check was to funded through a loan, then that is an entirely different story.
That is what applies in the banks of my country at least. I have been dealing with checks for more than five years and have seen my share of fraudulent checks.
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