Classic overpayment scams and new deceptive twists: Internet ScamBusters #139
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Today we’ll talk about some new, very deceptive twists to the overpayment scam
(which has become one of the biggest scams). We want you to understand the principles
behind the overpayment scam so you don’t get taken… no matter what specifics
and details you encounter.
Before we get started, we wanted to tell you about the brand new free
BBQ newsletter, Barbeque Bob’s Taste-Tingling Tips, written by our
associate, "Barbeque Bob." You can read more about it at the end of
the newsletter, or check it out now.
Let’s get started…
New Overpayment Scams
We’ve written about the overpayment scam before, since it is one of the most popular
scams making the rounds. In fact, this made #4 on our list of the Top 10 hoaxes
Most versions of this scam involve someone sending you a check or money order
for more than the price of something you are selling, and you get to keep the
difference as a commission (or you need to send them back some amount for some
The most common version involves selling your car, truck or other vehicle. For
example, you list a car or other large ticket item for sale. A scammer, who may
or may not actually be from overseas, claims he wants to buy it — often for more
than you are asking.
The scammer sends you a money order for more than the amount of their purchase
(for some bogus reason), and you are supposed to send them back all or most of
the difference. (The "reason" is often related to international fees
to ship the car or item overseas.)
Although the money orders look real (and are usually accepted as legitimate by
banks), they are actually fake. So you lose the difference you’ve sent them in
cash (after you deposited their money order in your bank account and it supposedly
cleared), as well as the item you shipped them.
Often, these scammers want to use a specific (but in fact bogus) escrow company
(and they give you a long explanation of why it’s so important to use this escrow
company). This too is a scam.
In a previous issue of ScamBusters, we wrote: We know of NO legitimate international
car offers — regardless of whether you’re buying or selling a car. We still believe
this is true — the exceptions are so miniscule that they are not worth mentioning.
Before we talk about the new twists, let’s review the principles behind the overpayment
- It doesn’t matter *what* is being sold: scammers have used the overpayment scam
for cars, trucks, ATVs, horses, tractors, wedding dresses, etc.
- It doesn’t matter *why* you are supposed to send them back money: scammers give
hundreds of different excuses that seem plausible at first blush.
- It doesn’t matter why you are supposed to use a specific escrow company: always
use the escrow company you select, not the one selected by the other party.
OK, now let’s talk about the new variants. These new overpayment scams are a bit
different, and they are really making the rounds.
The biggest difference from classic overpayment scams is that you are offered
a job instead of selling something.
If you post your resume on one of the legitimate online employment sites such
as monster.com or careerbuilder.com, you may well receive this newer overpayment
Here’s how it works: You receive what is supposed to be a job offer to become
a "financial representative" of an international company.
You are told that this company has problems accepting money from US customers
and is looking for financial representatives to handle the payments.
You are usually offered 5% to 15% to handle the transactions.
You can see two very different example emails of how this financial
representative scam works here.
If you apply and give them your personal information, there are several ways you
can get scammed:
- You may experience identity theft.
- They may attempt to steal money directly from your bank account.
- You may receive bogus payments that you then deposit into your bank account,
and then send them 85% to 95% of the money, which, of course, you lose.
Action: Avoid all these overpayment scams. Never agree to handle financial transactions
for people you don’t know or who offer you a job. Never accept money orders and
turn around and send part of the money to anyone, no matter what the reason.
Time to close. Have a great week.