A few lessons are learned the hard way—and in some cases, the expensive way. One University of West Florida student recently learned that, when it comes to money, it’s important to make careful decisions about whom you trust.
According to the UWF Police Department, on Nov. 27 a student reported that he received two third-party checks from another student. After cashing the checks at his bank, it was determined that both checks were fraudulent.
Campus Police Chief John Warren said in an interview Dec. 6 that the student who cashed the checks wasn’t an associate of the person who wrote the checks.
“From our understanding, the student had been friends with another student on campus and that friend asked the student if he could cash the checks for his friend, the third party,” Warren said. “The student agreed and later found out from the bank that the checks were no good.”
The student was contacted by the bank and charged fees in the amount of the checks plus additional bank penalties.
Warren said that incidents like this are not uncommon, but they are preventable.
“Cashing third-party checks is risky,” Warren said. “Students should definitely steer clear of them. If you don’t personally know the check is valid, don’t cash it. Students should know that not everyone is trustworthy, and not everyone is their friend.”
Deardra Frowner, a retail banker at Woodforest Bank, said that fraudulent checks are common, but that caution seems to vary by age group.
“I’ve noticed that when it comes to checks, younger customers just want to cash it and get the money,” Frowner said. “They rarely ask questions. Older customers will actually want me to look into the other bank’s information. They’re way more cautious.”
Also, when it comes to checks, people always have options before the situation gets out of control, according to Frowner.
“Checks are always drawn off a specific bank. People can call the “issuing” bank to verify the check,” Frowner said. “If it’s a bank you’ve never personally heard of, call their customer service or search it through Google it to see if it actually exists.”
Frowner said she wished more people would take cautionary measures because cashing fraudulent checks is a federal offense and could carry a sentence of up to five years, depending on the type of fraud that was committed.
Campus police are limiting the information they release because the investigation is still pending and is being handled by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.