Connecticut Attorney General's Office
Check-Overpayment and Money-Wiring Scams
Check overpayment/ money wiring scams are becoming more and more popular, and more and more clever. The set-up for the scam can be different every time: sometimes the scam artist contacts you to buy something you advertised for sale in the paper or on the internet, sometimes he sends a check to pay you for work you did at home, sometimes he offers you an "advance" on a fake sweepstakes or lottery you have supposedly won. But, all of these scams end the same way - with you losing your money.
Here is how the scam operates: the people you are doing business with send you a check for more than the amount they owe you, and then instruct you to wire the difference back to them. Or, they send you a check, with instructions to deposit it, keep part of the amount for your own compensation, and then wire the rest back to them for one made-up reason or another. The checks in these scams look real-in fact, they often look authentic enough to fool bankers-but in reality, they are fraudulent.
The results are always the same: the check eventually bounces, but not until you've wired them the money. They've disappeared, and you're stuck, out the full amount, including what you wired to the scammer.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal offers these tips for avoiding check overpayment scams:
- Don't be fooled by a fraudulent check, just because it looks legitimate.
- Know who you're dealing with - independently confirm your buyer's name, street address, and telephone number. Be wary of selling something to a person who appears to be in a foreign country.
- If you're selling something over the Internet or through a newspaper ad, say "no" to a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting the plea or convincing the story.
- Don't wire money back to anyone. There is no legitimate reason for someone who is paying you or giving you money to ask you to wire money back.
If you've been the victim of such a scam, report it to Attorney General Blumenthal at Attorney.General@po.state.ct.us, the National Fraud Information Center/Internet Fraud Watch at www.fraud.org, a service of the National Consumers League (NCL) or telephone them at 1-800-876-7060, or the Federal Trade Commission or 1-877-FTC-HELP.
These tips, and others, are available online from the FTC at OnGuardOnline.gov, and from the National Consumers League at fraud.org. OnGuard Online is a multimedia, interactive consumer education campaign provided by the FTC and a partnership of other federal agencies, the technology industry, and consumer advocacy organizations including the NCL. The site covers online safety topics, including spyware, identity theft, spam, and cross-border scams.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint with the FTC in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.