Bulletin: SLS2011013

Date:
July 25, 2011
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
International Sweepstakes Check Fraud

Dear Associates: 

Several Stewart offices around the country have reported a wave of fake checks, bearing the name Stewart Title Company, attempting to be cashed by victims of an international sweepstakes check fraud scheme. Stewart Title Company has not sustained any losses. All fraudulent checks presented for payment have been caught and returned to the bank of first deposit because of positive pay or reverse positive pay applications.  Stewart Title Company policies require positive pay or reverse positive pay applications on all company bank accounts.

The victims are reportedly receiving letters from fake companies, or from legitimate companies without their knowledge, along with what purports to be a Stewart Title Company check.  The letters inform the victims that they have won a large sum of money and further instruct the victims to contact their "claims representative/agent", whose contact information is provided in the letters, before attempting to cash the fake check.  The victims are given a "claim number" and are instructed to send funds to a tax agent to cover any taxes associated with winning the large sum of money. 

This bulletin further reminds you of the potential perils of relying on checks.  Schemes based upon fraudulent checks continue to be a source of potential losses for our industry.  Any check - bank check, cashier's check, certified check, and teller's check - can be counterfeited.  Watermarks and routing numbers can be forged. 

If you are contacted by a customer or third party about these checks, you should encourage the individual to contact a law enforcement agency. You can also refer them to http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/mailfraudcomplaint.aspx where they can file an online report with the U. S. Postal Service or http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov//where they can learn about similar and other frauds and how to protect themselves.  

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None