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Overpayment Fraud

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A Wheatfield woman found out a hard lesson in overpayment and forwarding fraud.  She was selling a piece of furniture on Craigslist for $295 and thought she had sold her item to a reputable buyer.   

The lesson started when a check for $1,550 arrived as payment for the furniture.  The buyer instructed her to keep the $295 for the item, a $60 “processing fee” and forward the remainder to a man in Virginia.  She waited a couple of days for the check to “clear” and then did as instructed.

She was later contacted by the purchaser to cancel the sale and return the $295 to him, which she did.  The bank later informed her that the check bounced and she was now out the $1,550.

It usually takes two days for a check to “clear” and the funds be credited to the depositors account, but it often takes up to five business days for the funds to be paid from the bank the check is written on.  During that time, the depositor is responsible if the check is returned for non-sufficient funds.

To avoid being tricked by this type of scam, be wary of purchasers that overpay for their purchases and ask for a refund of the overpayment to be returned to them, or forwarded to a third party.  A legitimate purchaser will not grossly overpay for an item and request an amount to be forwarded to a third party.  If someone does this, consider canceling the purchase altogether.

Accepting a payment from a credit card does not remove the risk.  The scammer could have used a stolen credit card.  Once the real account holder finds the charge, they could dispute the charges.  In this case, you lose the money you sent to the scammer, the product, and your shipping charges.

Bottom line, there is never a legitimate reason for a buyer to overpay for a purchase and request the money be forwarded to a third party.

For more information on how to prevent fraud, please contact John Walczak, Certified Fraud Examiner with over 25 years of experience with our firm.