Internet Scam Alert! Beware of cashier's checks!
Since the Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scam is known by several different
names, in addition to operating the InternetScamAlert.com website that you are now
viewing, LinkedAds.com (which operates more than 200 classified ad websites)
has launched 4 additional websites explaining how the scam works:
Nigeria Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam = NigeriaCounterfeitCashiersCheckScam.com
Nigerian Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam = NigerianCounterfeitCashiersCheckScam.com
Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam = CounterfeitCashiersCheckScam.com
Cashiers Check Scam = CashiersCheckScam.com
Updated July 10, 2015 - LinkedAds.com, LLC, the operator of 200 classified ad websites (see LinkedAds.com), has developed this scam advisory website to provide information about the Nigerian Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam. If you buy or sell anything on the Internet, if you have placed a classified ad on the Internet, or if someone is requesting you to wire them back some money for an alleged overpayment from a cashier's check, you need to be aware of this scam involving the use of "counterfeit cashier's checks" ........ If you are asked to wire money back to anyone (especially from overseas) as a result of a money order or cashier's check overpayment ..... Beware! It is a SCAM! If you are to receive a cashier's check from someone you don't know from overseas (no matter how trusting they may seem) ..... Beware! It is almost certain to be a SCAM! Also, do not give anyone your bank account information (including for making inbound wire transfers to you from overseas for an alleged payment of an item), because supposedly scammers can debit and drain your bank account! A lot of scams originate from "overseas" emails, so a good rule of thumb is to sell to someone only within your own country. That means if you are from the United States, sell to someone only in the United States. If you are scammed by someone from overseas (outside your own country), your legal options are few if any.
Please note: There are perhaps thousands of variations of the Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scam. In addition to the scam affecting websites that feature classified ads and online auctions (whereby the scammer will send the seller a counterfeit cashier's check or counterfeit money order and wants the seller to send them back an alleged overpayment by wire transfer), another variation of the scam involves two people who become friends through online chats and email communication. For example, if a man has been chatting to a woman (overseas) for perhaps two months (he is slowly gaining her trust), eventually the woman will say that she wants to come to the country where the man resides. She wants the man to get her an apartment, and of course she sends him a counterfeit cashier's check of perhaps $15,000 and then asks him to wire back to her any remaining overpayment. (Please continue reading below to understand how the scam works with the use of counterfeit cashiers checks and money orders).
Please note if you are selling, renting, or leasing real estate: Thanks to feedback received from our HousesForSale.com website, we would like for you to be aware of another variation of the Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scam. If you are selling, renting, or leasing a home or property, be extremely cautious of anyone "overseas" wanting you to accept a "partial payment" (usually a cashiers check) as a down payment on your house, home, or property. As an example, if your house price is $250,000, the scammer may say they want to buy your house, and is prepared to send you a cashiers check in the amount of $40,000 for the down payment, and upon receipt you should wire $8,000 back to their property inspector so they can travel to the United States to inspect your home or property. (Please continue reading below to understand how the scam works with the use of counterfeit cashiers checks and money orders).
The Nigeria Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Scam has targeted hundreds (perhaps thousands) of websites across the Internet that feature classified ads (or online auctions) for automobiles, motorcycles, farm equipment, horses, dogs, etc. If you have received an email that mentions that they want to pay you for an item by a cashiers check (usually through a colleague) and they want to send you “extra money” while requesting you to wire them back the remaining difference, it is a scam!
Again, there are many, many variations of the Nigerian Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam, and one of the most common versions of the scam involves a person from overseas posing as a potential buyer of an item (such as a motorcycle or an automobile). Initially the overseas person may request some additional photos of the item being sold (this lets the seller think the person is a serious buyer). In a later email the overseas person tells the seller that they are overseas, but have a colleague in the United States who owes them money (such as $10,000), and they will instruct their colleague to send the seller a cashier’s check for the sum of $10,000. The overseas person informs the seller to deduct the cost of the item and to send (wire) whatever balance remains to him (so if the seller has something for sale for $5,500, then they will wire the overseas person the $4,500 difference). The overseas person indicates in an email that he has already made shipping arrangements, and tells the seller that when the check is cashed, he will inform his shipping agent to pick up the item. The overseas person also requests a name and address to where the check should be sent, saying that they will send the check immediately (and believe it or not, the cashier’s check does arrive quickly…..it often comes by Fed Ex). Typically the seller will receive between 2 and 5 emails before the overseas person requests an address for mailing a check.
After the seller receives the cashier’s check and deposits it to their bank account, the bank will let the seller (the banks customer) know that the funds are available usually within 24 hours. Some people wait a week though just to make sure everything seems fine for the cashiers check, and with the funds still showing in their bank account, the seller sends the remaining balance of money to the overseas persons’ designated account (often the money is sent via Western Union or Money Gram). Several days later the bank will determine that the cashiers check is counterfeit, and will remove (deduct) the cashiers check amount from their customers account. The seller has now just become a scam victim, having lost every penny that they wired to the overseas person. It seems the overseas person (scammer) is not interested at all in picking up the item that the seller had for sale……he only wanted the seller to make a wire transfer to him. Ironically, the scammer sometimes makes more money on the lower cost items, because if a person has received a check for $10,000 for an item that was only $4,000, then the scammer would make $6,000. If the item was $7,000, the scammer would only make $3,000. Usually though the scammer adds between $2,000 and $7,000 to the actual selling price, so if a person has something for sale for $9,000, then the scammer will probably send the seller a cashier’s check for perhaps $11,000 to $16,000. Recently there seem to be more and more scam emails that are targeting lower value items, such as household items that are for sale. For example, if a woodburning stove, refrigerator, or sofa is for sale for $200, the scammer may send only $1,000, and wants the owner to wire them back $800.
Unfortunately, many banks will say the cashier’s check funds are available within 24 hours, but this does not mean that the cashier’s check is good. It may take two or three weeks to know if the check is good or not, but by then it is too late for the victim (during this time they have already wired the money to the overseas person, and they can’t get the money back).
There are several different versions and twists to this scam, and some emails indicate that the shipping costs or crating costs can also be deducted from the cashier’s check sum. There are also several different locations mentioned in various emails, some saying the person is from London, and some mention traveling in South Africa, Nigeria, Africa, and we have even seen an email that mentions Canada. (Some emails do not mention a country). The reality is, it doesn't matter what country they say...the fact is that the wired money does go overseas, and most often you can't get your money back. There is even speculation that the money could be funding some terrorist activities. There are probably many cells of these scammers in many countries, including in the United States.
If you would like to search for different versions of the scam, please use any of the commonly used search engines and enter search strings such as:
scam + cashier + London
According to several websites and message boards, many people have been a victim of this scam (it seems to be very widespread across many classified ad websites, and recent feedback from our website viewers indicates the scammers are also targeting sellers on online auction websites).
Points to Ponder: If law enforcement really wanted to shut down the Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scam, shouldn't it be relatively easy? Since there seems to be just a handful of wire transfer companies used in the wiring of the money overseas, if "all" of the wire transfer companies were required to make a person read a piece of paper explaining how the scam worked at the time of the wire transfer, then a person likely wouldn't send the money to the overseas scammers, would they? Is it fair that a wire transfer company profits (if they do indeed profit) from the wire transfer even though a person becomes a scam victim?
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