WASHINGTON — Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has uncovered a check-cashing scam in which fake checks in the media rights group's name were sent to individuals around the United States.
Clothilde Le Coz, US director for RSF, was alerted to the scheme last month by a call from a woman in Colorado who asked why she had received a check from RSF for $4,800 and whether she could cash it.
"I told her unfortunately not," said Le Coz, who received another call the next day from a check-cashing service in Colorado about another alleged RSF check for $4,800.
A man from Chicago also got in touch with Le Coz that same week and told her that his Bank of America account had been closed after he attempted to cash an RSF check that was subsequently rejected.
The checks, which were delivered by UPS and featured the correct bank account number and address for RSF, were accompanied with instructions in poorly written English.
The recipients were told to cash the check, to keep $300 and transfer the remaining money by Western Union to accounts in Britain, where it would be donated to foster homes for orphans.
The exact number of checks mailed is not known but RSF was automatically alerted by Bank of America to at least six attempts to cash checks drawn from the RSF account. None of them were successful.
Le Coz reported the matter to her Bank of America branch, which had her close the account and open another.
According to the National Consumer League, fake check scams are the most reported fraud in the United States.