• United States



by Jon Surmacz

A Common Currency for Online Fraud

Apr 26, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The New Fake Check… Online fraudsters, who have been passing fake checks for years, are turning to a new form of payment – United States postal money orders – to help them defraud their victims. According to a story in The New York Times, more than 3,700 counterfeit postal money orders were intercepted by the FBI and U.S. Postal Service between October and December – exceeding the total for the previous 12 months. Since October, law enforcement has arrested 160 individuals in cases where individuals knowingly received — or tried to cash — fraudulent money orders. The theft is estimated to run into the millions of dollars, the Times reports.

It works like this: Fraudsters make contact with their victim, usually through e-mail. They then ask for merchandise to be sent to them in exchange for the postal money order. The thieves get the merchandise and the victim is left with a bogus money order.

Experts say the fraud is significant because the money orders are hard to counterfeit. In order to verify the authenticity of a postal money order, hold it up to the light and check the watermark, which should reveal an image of Benjamin Franklin. There should also be a microfiber strip that runs alongside the watermark with the letters USPS. The USPS also offers other tips for identifying counterfeit postal money orders.