One of the reasons why scams are so prevalent and continue to bring in victims is that those who perpetrate them make them seem so real. This is why fake check scams work so well. They seem like something that is valid.
The Federal Trade Commission explains that check scams occur when someone asks you to deposit a check and send them money from that check. Typically, they tell you that you will keep the majority of the money and have a very good reason why you should send them part of the money.
In check scams, the check is not real, but it looks real. So much so that even your bank will not immediately recognize it as a fake. In some cases, they are real checks but the scammer stole them. In either situation, it can take weeks for your bank to identify the check as bad.
In the meantime, your bank tells you the check cleared because federal law says they cannot hold funds from a deposited check for more than two days. You think everything is fine and send the money to the scammer. Later, you end up having to pay back all the money for the bad check and the money you paid to the scammer.
While you may think it is easy to identify these scams, they are quite developed and seem very authentic. One example is a sweepstake where you receive a check for your winnings, but the company tells you that you have to pay fees from the check and send them some money back once your deposit it.
Another common scam is where someone buys something from you online. They send you a check that is for more than the amount due and request you refund the excess amount. You send the refund, thinking the check is valid.