Counterfeit Checks & Money Orders

Counterfeit check and money order scams dupes individuals selling items through Internet classified ads or online sales. The buyer sends the seller a cashier’s check or money order that exceeds the purchase amount — sometimes by thousands of dollars — saying the excess amount is to be used to pay shipping or other related costs.

The seller is instructed to deposit the check and return to the buyer the unused portion in the form of a money order, cashier’s check or wire transfer. In some cases the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstances have arisen where he or she needs to cancel the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the rest of the money.

Shortly after the money is sent to the buyer, the seller's bank notifies the victim that the check was fraudulent and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.

Be wary of any purchasers proposing to conduct transactions this way! Be especially suspicious of those coming from outside the U.S. Take steps to ensure that a check has fully cleared before doing anything with the funds.

Warning signs:
New variations of fake check scams constantly pop up, but in each case they give you a realistic-looking check or money order and ask you to send cash in return. Here are some of the common scenarios: * In person: Scammers befriend you and ask you to cash a check or money order as a favor. * Buyers from classified ads, eBay, or your advertisement: They want to buy something that you are selling and send a check or money order for more than you're asking. You are asked to send the extra to pay for a delivery or some other service. * They hire you to work at home and ask you to deposit checks or money orders in your account as part of your job. Sometimes they have you open a new account for the "business", but you're still responsible for any checks that you deposit. * They tell you you won a lottery, sweepstakes or inheritance and send you a check or money order as an "advance" on the millions that you're going to receive, to use them to "pay taxes", delivery or other fees. * They offer you a foreign business deal and send you a check or money order as an advance on your profits.

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