Sheriff Casey Cox
November 21, 2021
The scams work like this: Someone responds to your posting or ad, and offers to use a cashier’s check, personal check or corporate check to pay for the item you’re selling. At the last minute, the so-called buyer (or the buyer’s “agent”) comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the purchase price, and asks you to wire back or purchase bitcoin to send the difference after you deposit the check. You deposit the check and wire the funds back to the “buyers.” Later, the check bounces, leaving you liable for the entire amount.
The checks are counterfeit, but good enough to fool unsuspecting bank tellers.
Here’s how to avoid a check overpayment scam:
Know who you’re dealing with. In any transaction, independently confirm the buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number.
Don’t accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don’t send the merchandise.
If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where it was purchased and ask if the check is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the person who gave you the check.
If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, purchase bitcoin, or some other type of money transfer end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don’t pressure you to send money by Western Union or a similar company. Once you have transferred money to bitcoin or wire transfer you have little recourse if there’s a problem with your transaction.
Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears the issuing bank.
Don’t lose your money to a scammer. If it sounds too good to be true, it is..
Courtesy of the Department of Justice