• Mar

    Avoid Fraud Online: Check Overpayment Scams


    This type of scam targets people who have placed an item for sale online. The scammer, a con artist from another country (or a location remote to you), will pose as a buyer.

    The con artist emails the seller and offers to buy the item with a cashier’s check, money order, personal or corporate check. The con artist will give you a story about how it will cost a lot of money to ship the item or that there will be extra fees involved for customs, etc. and as a result they’ll send you a check for considerably more than the asking price. In addition, you’ll be told that this is a time-sensitive issue and that you need to send the item as soon as possible.

    If they send a check, money order, etc., it will look authentic, but if you deposit it, it will almost certainly bounce. If you send the item before the check has cleared, you’ve lost your merchandise and you’ll be on the hook for the bank and shipping charges.

    Another variation of this scam is when the scammer asks you to wire back the difference in price after you’ve shipped the item. Again, if you ship the item before the check has cleared, it will almost certainly bounce, and you’ll be on the hook for the loss of your merchandise, the bank fees, shipping charges and the difference that you sent back to the scammer.

    Worse, if the scammer has access to your bank account information, you could also lose money from your account.

    If you’re selling something online, don’t accept this kind of offer. End the transaction immediately, especially if they ask you to wire back funds.

    Personal Note: For the record, this happened to me, but I insisted that the transaction be completed via PayPal. It never happened, but the scammer kept me on the hook for weeks. When I told her I sold the item, she claimed that she had sent me a payment on PayPal for the amount of the item and sent me a PayPal link. She also demanded that I refund her money. I ignored her link, went to PayPal directly and found that no transaction had occurred. I immediately contacted her, called her on the lie and blocked her from any further contact.

    Forward check overpayment scams to spam@uce.gov and your state Attorney General.

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    © Nathan Segal. Questions? write to me.

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