I got an affidavit of altered payee from the maker's FI, which happens to be one of the largest banks in the world. Even though the item doesn't appear altered to me, the fact that the customer also tried to negotiate other altered/counterfeit items leads me to believe it is indeed altered.
This is one of three checks, all drawn on different banks with different makers that our customer negotiated throught his business account. Two of the checks were returned altered payee, the other turned out to be a counterfeit.
It was part of a scam that involved wiring funds to Canada. I have spoken to the maker of each item. All were originally made payable to different businesses and sent to Ontario, Canada. Two of the three were shipped to PO Boxes in Ontario. I think someone from the Canadian Post Office stole the items from the mail. The counterfeit item turned out to have a Canadian routing number (even though they slickly added US dollars to the check) and was outsorted at our Operations area and sent in for collection. The other altered item was returned before our 10 day hold expired.
These three items total over $225,000. My contact, a US Postal Inspector, said we would have better luck with the Canadian Post Office than he would because we are the victim FI.
I hoped I explained the situation a little better this time. Sorry, just very frustrated. This loss equals my banks total net losses from last year!!