Skip navigation
Ensuring a Safe and Sound Federal Banking System for All Americans Site Map | Text Size: S M L

Alert 2014-35
Description: Astoria Bank

Counterfeit Official Checks of Astoria Bank, Long Island City, N.Y.

To: Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks and Federal Savings Associations; All State Banking Authorities; Chair, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Deputy Comptrollers (Districts); Assistant Deputy Comptrollers; District Counsels; and All Examining Personnel

The above-named bank has reported that counterfeit official checks using a correct routing number of 221472815 are being presented for payment nationwide in connection with a variety of mystery shopping scams.

The counterfeit checks do not resemble the bank’s authentic checks, and the counterfeit items may be identified by the following traits:

  • The checks are unknown in color but contain a dark top border.
  • One of the following security statements appears in the top border of the check: “THIS DOCUMENT HAS A GRADUATED BACKGROUND, DARK TO LIGHT. THE REVERSE SIDE INCLUDES AN ARTIFICIAL WATERMARK,” or “THIS DOCUMENT HAS A COLORED BACKGROUND AND MICROPRINTING. THE REVERSE SIDE INCLUDES AN ARTIFICIAL WATERMARK.”
  • The following coding appears beneath the payable dollar amount: “BR: 5; CDR: 14740; 343005.”

Counterfeit checks presented to date have been made payable in amounts ranging between $1,300 and $2,450.

Potential victims of these mystery shopping scams are contacted via e-mail regarding a job opportunity with a fictitious company. Once the potential victim completes the survey attached to the job offer e-mail and returns it, a counterfeit check and additional correspondence are mailed to the potential victim’s residence.

There are two different scenarios:

  1. The potential victim is to deposit the check into his or her bank account and within 24 hours withdraw the full amount. He or she is to retain $300 as his or her salary and use the remaining balance to split into two wire transfers to be sent to two separate third-party individuals.
  2. The potential victim is to deposit the check into his or her bank account and within 24 hours withdraw the full amount. He or she is to retain $300 as his or her salary and use the remaining balance to purchase $500 Green Dot Money Pak Cards. Upon purchasing the Money Pak Cards, the victim is to scan or e-mail the 14-digit personal identification number to [david.wallace0@yahoo.com] or [david.wallace0@outlook.com]. The victim is then asked to make an urgent donation by purchasing a $20 cashier’s check from his or her bank and making it payable to the American Cancer Fund. The $20 check is then to be scanned to Mr. Wallace’s e-mail address noted above. Note that this check will be used in future counterfeit scams.

For additional information and to verify the authenticity of official checks drawn on Astoria Bank, please contact Astoria Bank’s Telephone Banking by mail at One Astoria Bank Plaza, Lake Success, NY 11042-1085; by telephone at (516) 327-7449; by fax at (516) 327-7290; or by e-mail at banking@astoriabank.com.

Consumers who receive counterfeit or fictitious items and associated material should file complaints with the following agencies, as appropriate:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): by telephone at (877) FTC-HELP or, for filing a complaint electronically, via the FTC’s Web site.
  • National Consumers League (NCL): by telephone at (202) 835-3323 or by e-mail. To file a fraud complaint, visit the NCL fraud Web site.
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB): The BBB system serves markets throughout Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States and is the marketplace leader in advancing trust between businesses and consumers. The Web site offers contact information for local BBBs, objective reports on more than 2 million businesses, consumer scam alerts, and tips on a wide variety of topics that help consumers find trustworthy businesses and make wise purchasing decisions.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (to report scams that may have originated via the Internet).
  • If correspondence is received via the U.S. Postal Service, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by telephone at (888) 877-7644; by mail at U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Office of Inspector General, Operations Support Group, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60606-6100; or via the online complaint form.

Additional information concerning this matter that should be brought to the attention of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) may be forwarded to

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Special Supervision Division
400 7th St. SW, Suite 3E-218; MS 8E-12
Washington, DC 20219
Phone: (202) 649-6450
Fax: (571) 293-4925
www.occ.gov
occalertresponses@occ.treas.gov

For additional information regarding other types of financial fraud, please visit the OCC’s anti-fraud resources page.

Ellen M. Warwick
Director for Enforcement and Compliance