Overpayment Scams:

Classic overpayment scams and new deceptive twists: Internet ScamBusters #139

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.

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 in history.

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 reason).

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 scam:

– 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 scam.

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.