Local grower hit with mobile deposit scam

A local grower says his own employee found a way to double dip on his paycheck to steal hundreds of dollars.

Just about every bank and credit union has a smartphone app designed for mobile deposits. It's as simple as snapping a picture of your check and clicking submit.

"There has to be something of responsibility at the bank," said Manuel Cunha, with the Nisei Farmers League.

Cunha says the grower is too embarrassed to do an interview, but he wants the warning out there since this could impact anyone who writes a check. Apparently the check scammer used the app to make the deposit late on Friday afternoons. Then the farm worker tricked the bank the next day, knowing nothing would be processed until Monday.

"He took the physical check now and went in and deposited it, and it cleared," Cunha said. "This went on for three or four weeks."

The worker doubled his $800 paycheck each time. Fortunately for the grower, the fraudulent transactions were reversed.

The California Bankers Association says the scammer would also have to give the money back.

"If somebody tried to spend funds from a check that was later determined to be fraudulent then those funds would need to be reimbursed back into the bank," Beth Mills said.

If they can't pay back the bank eats the loss, according to the California Bankers Association. Each bank and credit union has its own set of rules on clearing checks, making funds available and how each mobile app operates.

Cunha says consumers and business owners need to know the rules of their institution.

"Check with your bank and make sure there are safeguards so checks cannot be double cashed," explained Cunha.

The California Bankers Association tells Action News banks are always looking for ways to close those costly loopholes.

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