a.k.a. Nigerian Check Scam
This scam mainly preys on people who may have posted items for sale on internet web sites. However, it is not exclusive to the internet. The victim will receive an email, letter or phone call offering to purchase the item from someone claiming to live outside of the country. The deal is that they will send a cashier’s check for considerably more than the item sale price with the agreement that the victim immediately send back a check for the difference.
These cashiers checks cannot be determined as fake by the financial institution until the check actually bounces. At the time the cashier’s check bounces, the financial institution then debits the account for the full amount of the cashier’s check. The cost to the victim is the amount they send back to the supposed buyer per the agreement plus any funds they may have spent believing the cashier’s check funds were in the account.
A typical phishing scam works like this: An individual receives an email which claims to be from a legitimate business the consumer may do business with, such as their financial institution, internet service provider or online payment service. The consumer is asked to “update” or “validate” their billing or account information, and direct them to a “look-alike” web site of the legitimate business.
Some warning signs include:
- You receive a check for an amount that is larger than the agreed sum;
- You are asked to deposit the check in your account and wire the difference back to the sender;
- You are asked to wire the money from a location other than your financial institution;
- The recipient is in a foreign country.