Small business eCommerce website owners can be the target of check overpayment scam

Check scam targets eCommerce business owners

If your sell products or services through your Web site, you could be contacted by a scammer posing as a legitimate customer. Usually, these offers look like "real" sales inquiries, but beware. If the offer or transaction seems non-standard and/or especially lucrative, be very wary.

Check Overpayment Scam

These "offers" take advantage of your desire to make a sale and cooperative nature. While there are variations, the overpayment scam goes like this:

  • The bogus "customer" contacts you expressing interest in your product or service. Often, the person claims to be outside the United States. One varient is a job offer where you would act as an agent or clearing house for financial transactions - for a commission - for a foreign company.
  • Scammer offers to send you a check or money order for MORE than the purchase amount.
  • Scammer gives bogus reason for overpaying - international banking rules or fees is one common reason. But is doesn't matter why; it's a lie.
  • You, the seller, are supposed to send the overpayment (less your "commission") back to the scammer.
  • You receive the money order, which looks legitimate but is not. You deposit it into your account and send a check refunding the overpayment to the scammer.
  • Your bank will not, and, in fact, does not know that the money order or check is no good until it fails to clear.
  • When the check fails to clear, your bank will get the amount you sent to the scammer from you.
  • You have lost the money you sent plus the product you sent to the scammer.

Identity Theft Alert!

This type of scam is particularly dangerous because, once they have your banking details, it is possible that the scammer could drain your bank account, or worse, steal your identity.

How to Protect Yourself

  • If a deal requires you to write a check to complete the transaction, decline the deal. It is a scam. Never accept orders that require you to send part of the money back.
  • Be very suspicious if a deal seems to be especially lucrative or requires unusual action on your part.

Related ASW articles:

A Street Web can help you avoid bad deals

Don't let these scammers take advantage of you.

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