Select Page

In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Gabriella Samuels is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Margaret Danniher.

The 2020s has brought a load of technological advancements, from photo editing and fun filters on social media to artificial intelligence. Technology is not slowing down and neither are scammers. One scheme that has scammers using some of these tech advancements is called “check cooking” or “check baking.”

Check cooking is when a scammer steals a check, takes a digital photo of it, and then uses photo editing software to alter the amount or payee, ultimately creating counterfeit checks. Typically, they only take small amounts of money to go by unnoticed longer.

This is a more advance version of “check washing.” With this method, a scammer takes a stolen check and uses chemicals to wash away the name of the payee or dollar amount, and steals money from an unsuspecting victim. The FBI has warned consumers that many have already lost thousands of dollars.

With check cooking, scammers can use commercially available software such as Adobe’s Photoshop, Canva, and even the basic photo editing software that comes with smartphones to fake checks.

According to the FBI, here are some things you can do to stay safe:

How to stay safe:

– Use safe payments methods, such as credit cards

– Check your mail daily so no one steals it

– Take your check directly to the post office if you have to write a paper check

– Always check your checking accounts for suspicious activity

If you think you’ve been a victim of check cooking, always file a police report, contact your bank, and file a report with the FBI.