Call 4 Action case prompts federal investigation into check fraud

Fake check fraud an exploding epidemic
Posted at 7:45 AM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 23:26:14-04

The United States Postal Service is investigating a check fraud case after TODAY’S TMJ4 contacted the companies whose names were used in connection with the fraud.

It started when Shawn Skurky received a $6,174.92 check in the mail a few weeks ago.

“I found this check and thought, "Oh my God, I can finally put a new roof on my house,” said Skurky.

The envelope came from State Farm, her home insurance company.

“Interestingly enough, I'm in the process of refinancing and I had just ordered some more stuff from State Farm,” said Skurky.

People's United Bank, the logo on the check, was the bank she used for the original mortgage on her house.

“I thought maybe somehow there was some computation wrong and maybe I'm getting some money back,” she said.

Soon, doubt set in when she saw a prize claim letter included in the envelope.

It's an initial payment which then makes me suspicious,” Skurky continued.

The letter said Skurky won two million dollars in the Mega Millions lottery and the $6,174.92 check was an initial payment.

“It has to be activated before depositing. So, I thought, ok what are they going to want to know when I activate it?” she said.

The letter says to call a claim representative.

TODAY’S TMJ4 called the number on the letter and there was a busy signal. We showed the check to Wisconsin’s consumer protection agency asking what consumers should look for if they receive a check in the mail.

“It appears not to have any perforated sides to it. This is a perfectly clean check which makes it look like maybe it was printed off of a printer or something,” said Lara Sutherlin with Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Sutherlin also said the routing number should be on the check itself, which wasn’t the case with Skurky’s check. Consumers can also examine the company logo. In Skurky’s case, State Farm confirmed to TODAY’S TMJ4 it did not print the logo on her check.

TODAY’S TMJ4 also noticed the logo used for People's United Bank on Skurky’s check is slightly different than the company's logo used online.

“What they were trying to get her to do was to deposit this check and then wire money back to them” explained Sutherlin.

According to BBB Scam Tracker data, in about a three year time frame, there’s been 5,144 complaints about fake checks. Nationally, since the start of 2019, consumers report they've lost $372,989 because of them.

Skurky is relieved she trusted her gut and didn't deposit the money, but fears others would fall for the fraud.

A spokesperson for State Farm told TODAY’S TMJ4, “We notified the U.S. Postal Service of this scam, and they have launched an investigation.”

A spokesperson for People's United Bank told TODAY’S TMJ4, “This has been shared with our team of financial crimes and prevention experts.”