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“Check washing” is on the rise

Hometown Focus

VIRGINIA – Close attention by a customer and quick action by staff at Northern State Bank in Virginia meant that at least one attempt at theft by “check washing” was thwarted.

The bank was able to recover the money that the customer would have otherwise lost to fraud, said John Post, president and CEO of Northern State Bank.

“It’s a constant challenge to stay ahead of fraudulent activity,” Post said. “Criminals are getting more sophisticated all the time.”

When a check is “washed,” criminals intercept a check before it reaches its intended destination. The check might be stolen from a personal mailbox or even fished out of a USPS blue collection box. Criminals then either “wash out” the original payee’s name and the original amount of the check with chemicals and write in a new payee and dollar amount, or they might print a completely new check with a new payee. The criminals then take the check to a bank of their choice and cash it.


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