WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 23, 2010 - The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, again warned today that consumers and job seekers should not accept SIPC checks that are presented online or in person by con artists seeking to buy personal goods or engage individuals for work.
SIPC officials said the fake checks include an actual SIPC account number that is used only for deposits. No checks of any kind are issued on the account in question.
The warning issued today by SIPC updates an earlier alert to the public issued on May 20, 2010. In over a dozen cases so far, one or more individuals have presented the phony SIPC checks to "pay" for an item on Craigslist or in face-to-face transactions, or to "pay" for services advertised on Craigslist. The most recent victims were supposed to be engaged as drivers or personal assistants. In some cases, the bad check passer or passers are trying to purchase items or services for less than the face value of the phony check and then asking for the balance in return, or for the balance to be forwarded to a third party.
As far as SIPC is aware, many of these checks arrive in a hand-addressed envelope with a return address in Indiana. Although one victim has stated that the fraudulent check was in excess of $30,000, most checks are $5,000 or less. No SIPC funds have been stolen in this scheme.
SIPC President Stephen Harbeck reiterated: "SIPC does not issue checks of this kind. The public should not accept SIPC checks from any person purporting to buy goods for their personal use or to pay for services."
SIPC was alerted to the scheme by consumers who were suspicious of the checks and did not proceed. However, at least one person has been victimized so far in the scheme.
The matter has been referred by SIPC to the proper authorities for investigation.