12/18/03 03-129

12/18/03 03-129


December 18, 2003   

Subject:           Increasing Use Of Counterfeit Cashier's Checks Used On Internet

The San Francisco Police Department Fraud Section is alerting the public to the increasing use of counterfeit cashier’s checks sent in response to Internet bulletin boards, such as Craig’s List, that sell items or rent apartments.


Suspects with Nigerian addresses contact victims by e-mail to purchase an item or rent an apartment.  They send the victim a cashier’s check, which is counterfeit, for  large amounts of money over the purchase or rental.  They instruct the victim to cash the check through the victim’s bank account and to keep the amount of purchase or rental, using Western Union to return the balance in cash “due” to the suspects to a Nigerian address.  Several days later, after the victim’s bank has cashed the check, the bank learns that the check is counterfeit and docks the victim’s bank account for the amount cashed.


Craig Newmark, owner of Craig’s List, says that he has gotten hundreds of reports of this kind of fraud, in spite of the numerous warnings to sellers of merchandise on his site.  The fraud has now shifted to apartment rental ads, where the counterfeit checks are sent as deposits.


For more information, please contact:


Inspector Earl Wismer

Fraud Section