Online Selling Requires Caution to Avoid Being Scammed
If you are venturing into the online sales arena, be aware of a common scam — the Nigerian Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam. Several TFCU members who were selling items online have already been targeted.
The scam involves a person from overseas posing as a potential buyer of the item you have for sale. Let’s say it’s a car that you’ve listed for $5,500. Eventually, they will offer to purchase your vehicle for your asking price of $5,500. They might tell you they are on a business trip overseas, but they have a colleague in the United States who owes them $10,000. They say they will instruct that person to send you a cashier’s check for $10,000. Sure enough, in a few days, you will receive the check, usually by Federal Express or other delivery service. Since you are an honest person, they tell you, they trust you to send them the remaining $4,500.
If you send the $4,500 back to the supposed buyer before the check actually clears, you have become the victim of a scam. The cashier’s check is a counterfeit.
Protect yourself when selling an item online. If anyone approaches you by e-mail with any variation of this story, do not do business with them. According to TFCU fraud investigator John Quinton, when a buyer involves a third party and wants you to wire money back to them, there is a 99.9 percent chance that the transaction is a fraud.
When selling any item online, Quinton recommends that you verify with the issuing financial institution that the check you receive as payment is valid before you release the item for sale. “Call the issuing bank or credit union by using telephone information to obtain the correct phone number and not the number that may be printed on the check, since fraudsters sometimes will put their untraceable cellular telephone number on the check,” he says. “Give them the check number, the issue date, amount and the name of the person it is made out to. If all of that information checks out with their records, they will tell you it is a valid check. If you don’t verify and it turns out the check is not good, unfortunately, the loss is yours.”