Watch out for ‘check washing’ scam involving your bank 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. 29, 2022 at 8:38 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG/Gray News) - You wash your hair, you wash your clothes, but did you know washing a check is a thing?

It’s no joke because it almost cost an Ohio woman thousands of dollars.

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

Patten said she wrote a mortgage check in August and hand-delivered it to a U.S. Post Office in Toledo, but the money pulled from her account a few days later didn’t go towards the bill.

Patten told WTVG she found out she was scammed when she tried to pay another bill.

“My account says empty, zero—my checking account. I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve got money. So somewhere a mistake was made,’” Patton said.

She looked at her check ledger and matched the numbers. She said someone got ahold of the actual check and washed it. The scammers took Patton’s information off the check and made it out to someone else for $6,800.

Patton said she called her credit union to verify and was told the check didn’t have her handwriting on it.

“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 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.

Joseph Kornasiewicz said that he was also a victim of a similar scam.

He and his wife decided to pay a $10 medical bill with a check. When they checked their account several days later, Kornasiewicz told WTVG they noticed they were nearly $10,000 short.

The check had been washed and made out to a “Miguel” for $9,666.

“I trust the Postal Service tremendously, but there’s a lot of bad guys out there nowadays, and you can’t even get even with them anymore,” said Kornasiewicz.

It’s been over two weeks since he reported the scam, but Kornasiewicz is unfortunately still out almost $10,000.

Anyone in this situation is recommended to keep contacting their bank, give them all documentation and stay on them for a refund.

Unfortunately, the scam itself is hard to prevent. The best bet is to jump on the issue as soon as it happens. That might mean checking bank accounts almost daily to spot the problem before it worsens.