WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 20, 2010 - The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which maintains a special reserve fund mandated by Congress to protect the customers of insolvent brokerage firms, warned today that consumers should not accept SIPC checks that are presented online or in person by con artists seeking to buy personal goods.
SIPC officials said the fake checks include an actual SIPC account number that is used only for deposits. No checks of any kind are issued on the account in question.
In over a half dozen cases so far, one or more individuals have presented the phony SIPC checks to "pay" for an item on Craigslist or in face-to-face transactions. In some cases, the bad check passer or passers are trying to purchase items for less than the face value of the phony check and then asking for the balance in return, or for the balance to be forwarded to a third party.
As far as SIPC is aware, the face amounts of the fraudulent checks are less than $5,000. No SIPC funds have been stolen in this scheme.
SIPC President Stephen Harbeck said: "I want to be very clear that SIPC does not issue checks of this kind. As such, the public should not accept SIPC checks from any person purporting to buy goods for their personal use."
SIPC was alerted to the scheme by consumers who were suspicious of the checks and did not proceed. However, at least one person has been victimized so far in the scheme.
The matter has been referred by SIPC to the proper authorities for investigation.