Is it Illegal to Cash a Check for a Service that I Provide, Before I Actually Provide the Services?

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I provide cleaning services and was contacted by a gentlemen saying he needs to have his apartment cleaned before returning to the US. He sent a check in my name so I cashed it. I repeatedly asked him for the location of his apartment so I could complete the cleaning, he continued to put it off. He later emailed me informing me to wire money out of state, which seemed odd so I didn’t. Was it illegal in any way to cash the check?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

It sounds like you were the victim of a check cashing scam. These usually work where someone instructs you to deposit a check (fraudulent check) into your personal account and then send them a money order. These people count on you forwarding them the money before you or the bank realizes the check is fake, leaving you to pay the amount of money you withdrew and sent to the person who contacted you. While it is illegal to knowingly present a fake check to a bank, it sounds like you were the victim here and your actions while illegal (strictly speaking) are defensible. The best thing to do is contact the bank you present the check to ASAP and let them know of the situation; it’s important to be forthcoming and do your best to resolve this issue. In the future, you should avoid any offers like this, or others that seem “too good to be true” or “easy money.”



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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.