TOTOWA, N.J. — At least one New Jersey credit union is dealing with fraudulent checks presented to title companies for large dollar amounts.

North Jersey FCU here has been alerted to two checks totaling more than $240,000 issued to title companies in Oklahoma and Nebraska on fake cashier's checks. According to Chief Administrator James Giffin, the credit union found out about the problem when one of the title companies called to verify the check.

"The scary thing for us is to say 'Who else is not going to call us to cash the check?'" he said. Giffin added that the fraudulent document was a recreation of a real check that had been duplicated but for a much larger amount.

At Greater Alliance FCU in Paramus, NJ, fraudlent checks are also showing up. Unlike the high dollar amounts seen at NJFCU, however, GAFCU is seeing checks that range in the $1,000 to $2,000 range drafted with the credit union's check symbol and logo. Greater Alliance officials told CU Journal that these checks aren't related to title work for closing loans in the way that the fraudulent checks at North Jersey FCU are.

Giffin said tha that this is new ground for his credit union, and that North Jersey officials have reached out to the police and NCUA, but are still trying to formulate an internal strategy. The biggest hurdle, he said, is not knowing how many other bad checks might be out there — particularly given how far away the two title companies were from the credit union's base of operations.

"This might be happening in Guam for all we know," he quipped, noting that while only two checks have surfaced so far, "what's scary to me is that I don't know if that's just the tip of the iceberg."

One thing that's reassuring for now, he said, is that there hasn't been any evidence of a larger, more widespread problem.

"I would think if we would've had a problem, this would've happened before and happened more often," he said. "I'm hoping this is just a one-off. Again, I don't know how big the problem is, and that's the scary part for me. I might find out tomorrow that there's more, and I'm not sure what we could put in place to stop this."

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