Overpayment Cheque Scam

People selling high-ticket items such as cars, motorcycles or computer gear via the Internet should be aware of a cheque scam that is bilking victims out of thousands of dollars. Although the scam has been around for quite some time, recent trends indicate that it is netting an increasing amount of victims, especially among car owners looking to sell their vehicles.

Typically, an overpayment cheque scam works like this:

* A seller places an Internet advertisement for a car or other item with a high price tag.

* Later, the seller receives a generous offer for the item, usually via an email.

* The seller agrees on the price, and, often, also agrees to the proviso that he or she refuses any other offers for the item.

* The scammers then send a cheque for the item. However, the cheque is for substantially more than the specified amount.

* The scammers invent some excuse for this overpayment and ask that the balance be electronically transferred to a specified bank account. For example, they may claim that the extra funds are to pay the fees of an agent who is handling the sale or to cover shipping costs.

* The seller dutifully transfers the amount out of his or her own funds.

* Later, the seller finds that his or her bank has dishonoured the cheque. In some cases, the bank may actually have cleared the funds, but discovers later that the check is a forgery or was stolen.

* Thus the seller has been bilked out of a substantial amount, with little chance of recovering the money. Furthermore, the item remains unsold and the seller may have rejected legitimate offers in the mean time.


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