Check Security Online Special
Frank Abagnale, a consultant in document security and expert in methods of fraud and forgery, was kind enough to speak with BFL&S to help us inform our readers about check fraud and how it will be affected by Check 21. Abagnale is most known as the author and subject of Catch Me if You Can, which was made into a popular Steven Spielberg film. He is also the author of several books about fraud and identity theft. His renown in the security field comes from his ability to circumvent it. As a minor, Abagnale became one of the most notable, successful and notorious forgers ever. Those days are far behind him, but he continues to use his talent to help law enforcement agencies and those in the private sector prevent the kinds of crimes that he himself once committed.
Below are examples of check fraud, explanations of how they were committed, prevention methods and liability issues:
A business writes a $2,500 check to a contractor who then alters the check to $25,000. When the contractor deposits the check it will be scanned and likely truncated (destroyed) leaving a digital image of the check as the only document. If the check clears the business’s bank and is paid then, when the fraud is detected, maybe weeks later, the evidence of the fraud will be very limited. A scanned check loses most of its security features.
How It Happened
Original checks can be altered in several ways. Forgers may use chemicals to remove the ink in several places and then re-write the information for the increased amount. This is known as “washing” a check.
If the check was printed on a laser printer, little more than a piece of clear cellophane tape is needed to perfectly remove the toner. Then any amount can be entered.