One of the most common types of confidence game played out in a consumer setting is what’s commonly known as an “overpayment” scam.
Typically, innocent folks will place something on Craigslist or the classifieds for sale. A “buyer” will contact them and offer to buy the item, often for a very good price.
Once the deal is made, the “buyer” will send a check to the seller for an amount exceeding the agreed-upon price. The “buyer” thereupon contacts the seller asking him/her to wire them or a third party the balance, often on the pretext of covering agent, escrow or shipping fees.
The seller wires the balance, as instructed. Later on, the seller is notified by the bank that the seller’s initial check was fraudulent, and did not legally clear.
The seller is thus conned out of the amount they wired to the fraudulent buyer, loses the item that they mailed to the buyer, and may face stiff fees from the bank for having cashed a bad check.
What can consumers do to prevent such scams?
Never send money on for a customer. This might be money laundering, which is a crime.
Use secure payment methods you are familiar with only. Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
If you receive a receipt for payment that is being held, check with the company – it is rare for a financial service to withhold payments until another action is carried out.
If you have been sent a check for more money than the agreed price, send it back and ask for another check with the correct amount. Do not agree to repay the difference until you are certain that the check has cleared.
Do not send the items to the buyer until their payment has cleared in your bank account.
If you receive too much money from a credit card payment only agree to refund it back onto the card
If you or a loved one has been the victim of fraud or a scam, then do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Robert J. Wittmann today at 856-873-3730. Please note, though, that because these scam artists are often international, these matters are best dealt with in the criminal, rather than the civil courts. As such, your best recourse may often be to contact the police and prosecutor’s office.