Police warning about cheque overpayment fraud

Fraudulent cheques are used in a variety of scams, and the County OPP is hoping to help people avoid becoming a vic­tim to the overpayment scam.

OPP Constable Mark Cloes reported that such scams are the type of fraud where the person receiv­ing the cheque is actually owed money for goods sold. That person, a seller, receives a counterfeit cash­ier’s cheque, personal cheque, or cor­porate cheque from the “purchaser” for more than the agreed amount. The seller is then asked to deposit the cheque and wire or mail the excess funds back to the sender or purchaser. It will then take a couple days before the banking institution lets the seller know that the deposited cashier’s cheque came back as coun­terfeit and the seller is out the amount of the overpayment that was mailed off.

Cloes said anyone selling goods should be sus­picious of any cheque – especially if it is for more than the selling price.

He said sellers can use an alternative method of pay­ment, such as cash or an online payment service. Many scams originate overseas, so he suggested sellers speak with their bank staff about the safest way to receive funds from different countries and from overseas.

To protect against this sort of scam, never agree to a deal where the payer wishes to issue a cheque for an amount more than the agreed price and then expects the seller to reimburse the balance. The scammers use a variety of excuses to explain the over­payment, but any such excuse should be treated with the ut­most suspicion.

Cloes said to avoid becom­ing a victim of an over­payment scam, remember the following general words of advice:  

– Know with whom you are dealing;

– independently confirm the buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number;

– never accept a cheque for more than the selling price;

– never agree to wire or mail back overpayment funds to a buyer;

– a legitimate buyer will not pressure a seller to do so, and the seller has limited recourse if there is a problem with a wire transfer; and

– resist pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good when the cheque clears.