Diane Raubach at Security State Bank in Chehalis, Washington agreeably answered some questions for us about the safety of accepting money orders for internet sales.
Question: Can Money Orders be cancelled even after the bank has made the funds available? Is there a time limit in which a Money Order can be cancelled? Or can it happen at any time?
Answer: Money Orders can come back for fraud, forgery, alteration, counterfeiting, etc. They can also be returned for stop payment. There is not a time limit, but usually these items are processed within a couple of months.
Question: If someone receives a money order, is there any way to track it? Is there some way to find out where it was issued, etc?
Answer: Yes, the issuing bank or company would need to be contacted. I think this step would be labor intensive.
Question: Once the money is wired, is there any way to get that money back? Is there any way to identify the account it went into? Is there any way to find out who owns that account?
Answer: I think the only way to get the information would be to subpoena it; looks to me like they would have to sue the company.
Question: Do banks work with law enforcement on these issues? Or do banks resent the intrusion? And why?
Answer: Banks work with law enforcement to help solve the crime, especially if the bank is somehow involved or impacted. Every bank is different regarding the resources they may use on this. Banks are also bound by privacy laws, so we cannot share information with anyone without a customer’s consent or a subpoena from law enforcement.
Question: If someone feels themselves caught in a scam like this and they are stuck halfway in the door, having accepted money and wired some money on before realizing it’s a scam, is there anything they can do?
Answer: Anytime someone is caught or involved in a scam they should notify law enforcement as soon as they realize what has occurred.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Good luck with your investigations and thank you for taking the time to share these experiences with others so that they can be spared from a similar fate.
Diane Raubuch, Main Branch Manager, Security State Bank