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What is the best fix for a cashier’s check with a forged endorsement signature that hasn’t been deposited yet? If the forged signature is crossed out and initialed, and then an authentic signature is written, is the forger still criminally liable?


The whole story: Alice and Bob are siblings with a joint checking account at Bank Of A&B. Alice and Bob agree to close the account, and for Bob to receive the entire balance of about $2000. Bank Of A&B closes the account after issuing a cashier’s check payable to Alice on the first line, and to Bob on the second line, with no “and” or other qualifiers appearing among their names. Bob wants to deposit the check in his own account at Bank Of B, and that bank says Alice and Bob both need to endorse the check (even though no “and” appears among their names). Alice is off traveling for a few months, so with Alice’s verbal permission, Bob forges her signature as an endorsement. But before depositing the check, Bob learns that the forgery could be a felony criminal offense, so he wants to mail the check to Alice, have her cross out the forged endorsement signature, initial it, and sign authentically.

The back of the cashier's check currently looks like this:

Alice’s forged signature

Bob’s real signature

For deposit only

Bank of B account#

After the proposed fix, it would look like this:

Alice’s real signature

Alice’s forged signature Alice’s initials

Bob’s real signature

For deposit only

Bank of B account#

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Legally, there is no fraud in the first place. Fraud requires an intention to financially benefit to the detriment of another person - Alice has agreed that Bob will get the proceeds of the check.

There may well be a different statutory crime for interfering with a check - but if so, it isn't fraud.

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If alice instructed Bob to sign the check with her name on her behalf, or gave him permission nto do so, there is no forgery, and no fraud. Signing another person's name at their direction is legal in all US states that have enacted a version of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). To be extra sure, Alice could write

I Alice {Full name and address} hereby permit Bob {full name and address} to endorse with my name on my behalf a check from Bank Of A&B representing the closing balance of account {number} dated on or about {date}, and to deposit the same in an account with only his name on it.

She should date and sign this, and have it notarized. Then, if challenged, Bob can show it to the bank, or any other party, and prove that he is justified.

If Bob simply signs Alice's name, the chance that on a check under $5,000 the signature will ever be checked if no one complains about the check are vanishingly small. If he is challenged on this, he simply states that he signed it on Alice's behalf with her permission. As long as Alice backs him, he won't be in any trouble.

Do not "fix" the endorsement, it will only cause the bank to question what it would otherwise accept.

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