Check Kiting Definition

Check kiting is a fraudulent activity used by criminals to obtain interest-free, short-term, usually small amount loans. It is illegal but often goes undetected. The basic premise involves the use of two checking accounts at different banks and depends upon the time it takes for checks to process through various financial organizations. The activity starts when check A (the so-called "kite" check), drawing on Bank 1, is deposited into Bank 2 and the funds are immediately withdrawn or otherwise used. The next day, check B, drawing on Bank 2, is deposited in Bank 1 to provide funds so that check A will not bounce-note that both checks are bad checks. This process repeats until the process is detected or until genuine funds become available to cover the checks. Check kiting schemes can become complex, involving multiple accounts with various individuals or businesses participating. The practice was more common-and much more successful—before banking became conducted largely through electronic means. For example, most banks and many retailers now use sophisticated electronic methods to effectively "cash" checks at the moment they are received. Check kiting is just one of several types of fraud involving check use—one reason why many retailers refuse to accept checks.