Better Business Bureau of North Alabama sends a warning of a “check overpayment scam” targeting business owners. In this scam, the person you are doing business with sends you a check for more than the amount they owe you, and then instructs you to wire the balance back to them. Or, they send a check and tell you to deposit it, keep part of the amount for your own compensation, and then wire the rest back for one reason or another. The results are the same: the check eventually bounces, and you’re stuck, responsible for the full amount, including what you wired to the scammer.
The following is an email recently sent to a local roofing company. Here, the scammer tries to get the company to accept his overpayment compensation for a roofing job and then have the roofer wire the remaining funds to a plumber to complete the plumbing job in the house. The email was sent from the email address of email@example.com.
“Thank you for getting back to me with the estimate, I’m fine with the estimate. Please I would need your favour concerning plumbing materials and service fees to do the replacement of the plumbing work in the house, please I want you to help me with his payment, I want my financial to include it with your payment and once the payment clears in your account, you take your payment of $7,500.00, and send the rest to the plumber so that he can order the plumbing materials and he come to do the plumbing work in the house when you are done with the roof. Pls kindly get back to me with the name to be on the check and the full address to mail out the check to. I will instruct my financial to mail out the check to you ASAP.”
Tips to Avoid an Overpayment Scam
- Know who you’re dealing with – independently confirm your buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number.
- 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.
- If you’re selling something over the Internet, say “no” to a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting the plea or convincing the story.
- If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank or a bank with a local branch. You can visit that bank branch to determine if the check is legitimate.
- There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back.
If you’ve been the victim of this type of scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose scammers’ tactics, so others won’t fall prey. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org.