(HURON COUNTY, ON) - Huron County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to remind those selling merchandise online to be on guard for a common scam known as the "Overpayment Scam". This warning comes as a result of a recent fraud investigation in Howick where a man in his 20's was victimized for $3,000.
The victim in this matter had listed a motorcycle for sale on a popular online classified site for sale. The scammer contacted the victim and an agreement to purchase was made. The scammer ended up sending a cheque that appeared genuine on its face for much more than the agreed upon sale price. The victim then deposited the money in his account however before the cheque had cleared the victim was instructed to send $3,000 to a shipping agent. This money was supposed to have been used to have the motorcycle shipped to the buyer. The victim then sent an electronic money transfer to the scammer and shortly thereafter all communication ceased with the scammer.
Overpayment scams are very common. The seller receives a counterfeit cashier's cheque, personal cheque or corporate cheque from the "purchaser" in an amount in excess of the amount owed; is asked to deposit the cheque and wire the excess funds immediately back to the sender/purchaser or the purchaser's agent or shipper; and, the deposited cashier's cheque is subsequently returned as counterfeit and charged back to the seller's account.
Anyone selling goods should be suspicious of any cheque, especially if it is for more than the agreed selling price. Consider an alternative method of payment, such as an escrow service or online payment service.
To protect yourself against this sort of scam, never agree to a deal in which the payer wishes to issue an amount for more than the agreed price and expects you to reimburse the balance. The scammers use a variety of excuses to explain the overpayment, but any such excuse should be treated with the utmost suspicion.
In order to avoid overpayment scams, here are some tips:
Know who you are dealing with; independently confirm your buyer's name, street address, and telephone number.
Never accept a cheque for more than your selling price.
Never agree to wire back funds to a buyer. A legitimate buyer will not pressure you to do so, and you have limited recourse if there is a problem with a wire transfer.
Remember, a cheque or money order is a payment agreement made between a buyer and seller. The bank processes the payment but they are not involved in the agreement. You are responsible for the items you deposit in your bank account. If the item is returned as fraudulent, you, as the depositor, are liable for the full amount. So if you're in doubt, or if the situation seems unusual in any way, find another buyer.