Another day, another scam. This one involves individuals overpaying you for a product or service then requesting you return the over-payment to them or all the funds until they receive the service. Here’s how it goes and the red flags to look for.
The scammer contacts you online about a service or product that they want to purchase. You agree upon an amount, and they tell you that they can’t meet in-person due to being “out of state, ill, on vacation etc.” They tell you that they’re willing to pay you upfront and send you a check, Venmo, CashApp etc. to cover the agree upon amount. Oftentimes, they will tell you that they are a very legit, religious, family-oriented person etc. to try to gain your trust and convince you they’re a good person.
The catch is that they send you more than the agreed upon amount when they pay you upfront. They claim to have fat fingered a digit then which puts the total usually in several thousand more than the agreed upon amount then ask if you can deposit the amount of the overpayment back to their account. They will claim they have bills to pay, mouths to feed and desperately need that money back in their account. The other variant is they send you the correct amount but tell you they need to back out for financial or other reasons and request that you return the funds.
Here is how the scam works. They send you a stolen or fraudulent check or use a stolen credit card to deposit the funds. Once you deposit or accept the payment on your app, they immediately hit you up and ask you to return the funds. The hope is that you will immediately send them the money back before your bank realizes the check is stolen or the app vendor discovers that the card is stolen. This is where the scammer will put on the heat for you to return the funds by saying if you don’t, they’ll call the police, have you arrested and lean on you to return the funds as fast as possible. This is a civil issue not a criminal one so that whole line of goes right out the window.
DO NOT send them any money back right away no matter how hard they try to get it. Immediately notify your bank or app vendor that you believe a fraud has been attempted. Let them investigate and handle the incident as they will be able to tell if it is a fraudulent transaction.
Red flags to look for
They are unable or unwilling to meet you in-person
If they are requesting a service such as landscaping, fencing, exterior home painting etc., they will typically use the address of a house that is for sale, recently sold or abandoned. They use these types of services because typically an estimate can be given just from an inspection of the property which doesn’t require you to go inside.
They try right from the get-go to convince you that they are a trustworthy person.
They are in a rush to get the funds returned almost immediately upon the financial transaction hitting your bank or financial app.
They become very aggressive if you hesitate or refuse to return the funds immediately. They will get really desperate and aggressive if you tell them you’re waiting for the bank to clear the check or the financial app to verify it is legit before sending the funds back.
They threaten you with police or legal action if you don’t return the funds.
Immediately call your financial institution, financial vendor app and follow their advice related to the transaction. Do NOT send any money back until your financial institution has cleared the money as being legit and given you the OK to do so in the super rare event that someone legitimately made a mistake.