Watch out for “check washing” scam on your checking account

A Toledo woman says she didn't do anything wrong when she got wrapped up in the scam -- which might be the scariest part of all.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - You wash your hair, you wash your clothes, but did you know washing a check is a thing?

It is -- and it’s no joke because it almost cost a Toledo woman thousands of dollars.

People getting caught up in it are doing the right thing. You get a bill for your mortgage, you write a check to pay it, send it off, and it should be over. But that’s not what happened because a thief was somewhere in the middle.

It’s not the mortgage check Flora Patten wrote in August and hand delivered to the US Post Office on Manhattan Boulevard. But it is the check cashed in her bank account a few days later. She learned that when trying to pay another bill.

“My account say empty, zero. My checking account. I’m like OK, I’ve got money. So somewhere they made a mistake,” said Patton.

She looked at her check ledger and matched the numbers. Someone got ahold of the real check and washed it. They took Flora’s information off the check and made it out to someone else for an amount of $6800. She even called her credit union to verify.

“She instantly knew it wasn’t my hand writing. Your check has been washed. I said ‘washed, what is that?’ Never heard of it,” said Patton.

Luckily fraud protections got her the money back but she had to go through more hoops to actually pay the mortgage. Patton didn’t do anything wrong, which might be the scariest part of all.

“Nothing surprises me anymore because there’s so much going on in the world. People find a way to do some of everything,” said Patton.

Can you prevent this kind of thing? Not really. Your best bet is to attack it if and when it happens. That might mean checking your bank account almost everyday to spot a problem before it gets worse.

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