Sep 21, 2010

Tip 37-2010: Cashier's Check Scam

There have recently been more and more scams surfacing in the real estate arena (including our Central Virginia Market). One recent scheme involved an international cash purchaser who could not come to the USA for his closing. Since the cash purchaser was selling another property in another state, he directed that his settlement proceeds be forward to the Virginia settlement attorney for use in the Central Virginia purchase. The proceeds check was an official national bank cashier’s check. Since it was for more money that what was needed for the closing, the purchaser asked the settlement attorney to send him the difference.

The only problem was the official cashier’s check, which looked absolutely real, was a forgery. The bank dishonored the forged cashier’s check. Unfortunately this did not occur until three days after the check was deposited in the attorney’s escrow account. The good news is that the attorney, being suspicious, never sent the extra proceeds to the foreign purchaser. Also the closing was delayed so the fraudulent cashier’s check proceeds were never used to purchase property.

Another recent scam involved a cashier’s check written by a Canadian bank in US Dollars. Again the client funded more than what was needed for the closing and requested that the excess be wired to an out of state account. In both cases neither the realtor nor the closing attorney ever met the purchaser. All contacts were made either online or by phone. The moral of all this is “if it seems unusual or suspicious”, it probably is. Watch out for cashier’s checks and any unusual requests regarding use of funds.

Please contact me (Charlottesville Attorney) if you have any questions.

William D. Tucker, III
Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
Charlottesville, Virginia

William D. Tucker, III is an affiliate member of CAAR.

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