by Sylvania Dick Eppstein
PUBLICATION DATE: May 01, 2018

Dick Eppstein is president of the Better Business Bureau Serving Northwestern and West Central Ohio and Southeastern Michigan, Inc.

A popular trick that cheats many consumers is the “overpayment scam.” You receive a check for payment, but it is more than agreed and you are told to cash the check and send some of the money elsewhere. You innocently follow their directions, and later discover that the check was counterfeit and you must repay the bank!

BBB has seen many examples of this racket. One Toledo lady ran an ad to sell her wedding dress on Craig’s List for $350. A very nice woman in Washington D.C. responded, claimed to love the dress and agreed to buy it. But somehow “by mistake” she sent a check for $2,350, much more than asked. The Toledo lady asked “why the overpayment” and was told that it was all a big mix-up; that the $2,000 was supposed to cover a moving company payment. She was told to deposit the check in the bank, then the next day send the $ 2,000 overpayment back to Washington. She did as asked, and was shocked when the bank explained that the check was a fake and she needed to pay them back.

Most recently, a classified ad was published in many local newspapers offering a job as a “caregiver.” It was supposed to be to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient and paid $20 per hour with no experience necessary. But responders to the ad were sent a check as payment “in advance.” The catch? Deposit the check, then send hundreds of dollars to another address. It was clearly a scam; nobody pays hundreds of dollars in advance to an employee without even knowing the “caregiver,” and cashing the check and sending money elsewhere is a sure “red flag” of an overpayment scam.

Businesses are also victims of this fraud. An unknown customer sends overpayment for a purchase, and the company innocently “refunds” the difference. Sometimes they even ship the merchandise before they discover the scam, and lose both money and their merchandise. I should mention that most businesses are aware of the scheme and don’t ship until the check clears the bank.

If you see an ad for a job that appears “too good to be true,” with high wages, flexible hours and no experience necessary, don’t be fooled. If they hire you immediately and send you a big “advance” on your wages – asking you to refund some of the payment – you know it is a scam. No legitimate company behaves that way.

Questions? Give us a call at BBB, 419-531-3116.
In addition, you can report frauds like this to the BBBScamtracker
website at
bbb.org

It helps us warn consumers all over North America.

Dick Eppstein is president of the Better Business Bureau Serving Northwestern and West Central Ohio and Southeastern Michigan, Inc.