Selling Online? Beware of Offers for More Than Your Asking Price
When an ad is placed for the sale of an automobile or other large ticket item, someone may respond to the ad agreeing to purchase the item for the asking price. Payment is received in the form of a certified check for the agreed upon price plus an amount thousands of dollars more than the asking price.
Another twist to the same scam involves receiving a check in the mail for what appears to be sweepstakes or lottery winnings. You are told taxes or fees must be paid on the winnings with the cashier's check you receive.
The so called fees are to be returned in the form of a cashier's check or wire transfer once their certified check is deposited. You are asked to return money and you may feel confident doing it because it is part of the money they sent you.
But BEWARE - The certified check is counterfeit and your bank account will be charged for the bogus check. This scam tricks you into giving away thousands of dollars you'll never see again.
Just because funds are available, doesn't mean the check is valid. The check has to go back to the issuing bank, in the case of a fraud, that could take several days or even weeks. Keep in mind that a cashiers check is not always guaranteed funds. Be aware that it can take a week or more for financial institutions to receive word that a check is fake. Cashier checks and money orders can be difficult to recognize as counterfeit.
This scam is so tricky and somewhat new, it can even get past an untrained eye at your local bank. Callers claim it's an easy scam to fall for because they are not asked to send money, they are given money and asked to help in the disbursement of the extra cash. Victims of scams typically report they do not have anywhere to turn to get help or assistance in bringing the scam artists to justice. Unfortunately, that's part of it and one reason scams continue. It is difficult to catch the perpetrators and even more difficult to get restitution.
If you have already responded to such a plea, or if you know someone who is corresponding in this scheme, contact the Better Business Bureau.