The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs are warning consumers about fake checks issued by the State Treasurey for $3,800.

“We are seeing with more and more frequency that technology makes it easier than ever for con artists to create phony legal documents, checks, and even websites that mimic those of government entities or businesses,” Attorney General Chiesa said. 

At least one consumer as far away as Ohio has received the fraudulent check in the mail from a con artist.  It included a letter that stated the check was being sent for a “Mystery Shopper assignment.”  The letter instructed the consumer to deposit the check, keep $200, and use the balance to send wire transfers via two separate Western Union locations – supposedly to evaluate the Western Union services.   “This fake check, purporting to be from the State Treasury, is a new twist on what is known as the ‘cashier’s check scam,’” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. 

In the “cashier’s check scam,” con artists will spin an elaborate story to convince the victim to deposit a fake cashier’s check into his or her own personal bank account, then write a separate check to the scammer – or wire money to the scammer.  The fake cashier’s check will look realistic enough to fool the teller at the victim’s bank, when he or she attempts to make the deposit.  Although the teller will give the victim a receipt, the fact is that, once the bank determines the check is a fake, no money is actually deposited into the victim’s account – and so the victim loses whatever money he or she sends to the scammer. 

Consumers should protect themselves by independently verifying the accuracy of any letter or email that purports to be from a government agency and says the recipient is entitled to a large payment.  Consumers are advised not to call any numbers that may be on the communication itself, but to find the agency’s contact information separately, such as via the agency’s website, and call to learn whether the letter is real.

Attorney General Chiesa and Acting Director Kanefsky urge anyone who receives a similar document by letter or email, to call the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Service Center Hotline at 800-242-5846 (toll-free in New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.