Oh no! That Great Uncle Dengue that you never knew you had has just died. Glory be, he has bequeathed to you his vast fortune amassed in his days running the slave markets of Abuja. As the evil treasury is going to confiscate this vast fortune, a corrupt official promises to send you the money if only you can cash a check for him. This is where the fun begins.
A friend regularly gets sent fake checks without ever having sent out any information. The check below is a fake check. The bank is real, the company is real but the check is bogus. The company was contacted but did not sound at all interested in the fake check nor in the fact the check was sent by recorded post issued at the company as the place of origin and using the company franking machine. Clearly not a healthy attitude toward criminality that leads to questions about the company itself.
There are so many red flags about that check - the lack of a signature is one. The fact it's for a ludicrous amount of money is another.
This, of course, leads on to one of the biggest problems with all transactions - checking to see if it's actually genuine. For as long as the human race has been conducting business, some members have been seeking to get something supposedly for nothing. Oddly enough, the effort and expense put into their attempts to get something for nothing would usually have been sufficient for them to do well at an honest career.
Whatever attempt is made to ensure money is genuine is only a step ahead of the forgers who're willing to go to any expense to make fake money. Today a new banknote is introduced, tomorrow the forgery is introduced. It's cat and mouse the whole way.
Electronic payments - as soon as somebody works out how to fake an electronic payment, the system needs to be rejigged. This happens regularly.
So - what method of payment is infallibly genuine?
- Bitcoin? Hardly - it's not even a real currency.
- Paypal? About as bogus as it gets with more loopholes than most Presidential impeachments.
- Check? Easy to print a fake check and the inertia in the banking system makes it look like a real check.
- Money? Man has been forging money for as long as there has been money, from the medieval coin sweating to printing fake currency.
- Plastic cards? Easy to fake and easy to copy somebody else's.
- Barter? How do you know that something with a Gucci label was actually made by Gucci?
- Gold? How do you know it's not gold plated over lead?
Nothing is guaranteed in the world save for death and taxes. Even the money deposited in the bank is not guaranteed to depreciate to nothing if government policies change. Nothing is guaranteed.