Beware of Fake Check Scams

The Manatee County Clerk has received a number of calls from individuals who have received unexpected checks for several thousand dollars that purport to be issued by Manatee County. The checks are counterfeit, and may arrive by special delivery or require a recipient’s signature.

We are issuing this Alert to warn the public about "mystery shopper," "modeling" and other job-search scams in which individuals receive checks that appear to be from legitimate companies—including Manatee County.

In each of these scams, you are sent an authentic-looking check. In many instances, the name of a real company appears on the check as well as real account and routing numbers. The common variety of this scam includes instructions to deposit the check in your bank account and then almost immediately transfer a portion of the money to someone else. Days later, your bank informs you that the check was counterfeit and that you are liable for the amount withdrawn, usually several thousand dollars. You've been scammed.

A variation of this scam, which what we are seeing with checks purportedly issued by Manatee County, simply delivers a check to your mailing address. No instructions accompany the check—but the Clerk suspects that once you deposit the check, you may further entangle yourself with the fraudster. You could receive follow-up attempts to phish for personal financial information or be asked to “return” this “overpayment”.

We are aware that the fraudsters have created fake Manatee County checks. Because it can be very difficult to tell a real check from a counterfeit one, we are urging consumers to be cautious if they receive an unexpected check. If you believe you have received a check from Manatee County that may be part of a check scam, do not cash it. Call the Manatee County Clerk Finance Department at (941) 749-1800, Ext. 6102 and ask to speak with a Finance staff member. Alternately, you may file a complaint directly with the U.S. Postal inspectors at: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/pressroom/schemealerts.aspx.