FBI El Paso Public Affairs Office
(915) 832-5355
January 16, 2024

#FBI Tech Tuesday Beware Check Cooking Scams

EL PASO, TX—Scammers are taking advantage of technological innovations and finetuning their methods to be more successful in manipulating unsuspecting victims. Scammers have become very good at impersonating legitimate organizations with fewer grammatical errors and other well-known red flags published by law enforcement and private entities such as Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission.

Scammers have taken check washing to a new level called “check cooking” or “check baking”. It’s much more lucrative, efficient, and allows them to easily manufacture dozens of checks and deposit them into numerous drop accounts. A scammer just needs to take a digital photo of a stolen check and then use commercially available software to alter it to make counterfeit checks. They will then create several checks with small amounts to remain undetected. By the time it’s noticed, the scammer could have made away with thousands of dollars.

How to stay safe:

·       Consider using a safer payment method, such as a credit card.

·       If you still need to write paper checks, don’t mail checks from home, instead drop it off directly at the nearest post office.

·       Check your mail daily to make sure no one steals a check or other mail from your box.

·       Continually monitor your personal and business checking account and watch for suspicious transactions.

What to do if you are a victim of check cooking?

·        Contact your banking institution right away.

·        File a police report with your local police department.

·        Federal Bureau of Investigation: File an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call the FBI El Paso Field Office at (915) 832-5000.