Whether you have an online store, a listing on Craigslist or Ebay, be prepared to be visited by a Scammer, especially if you have a high priced item.
You might receive an email that is unassuming and honest. This person wants to pay you by check or money order and could arrange for their own shipping. Wow! This could save you money and time. All you have to do is supply this person with your contact information including name and address for the pickup. RED FLAG! This is a classic scam in the making.
By now, most of us are in the know about the internet scams from Nigeria (Nigerian 419 scam), or the wire transfer scams on Ebay, but do you know there is a mail order check fraud scam from Ohio?
HOW THE SCAM WORKS
The check fraud scam starts by you accepting this buyer's offer to receive a check or money order for the product. Their email address looks legitimate.. They may be in the guise of a woman who lives in Ohio. They also make an offer to pickup the product at their own expense. Your contact information is required for this to be completed.
Checks and money orders go through the regular banking system BUT, they do not always clear right away. However, you are still entitled to a portion of the funds before it actually clears. Everything may "appear" legitimate when you make the deposit. You contact the buyer once the check or money order is deposited and no red flags are issued by the bank.
Your product is picked up. You think you got paid...BUT INSTEAD, you GOT SCAMMED! Your bank bounces back the check or money order. Any money you withdrew on the portion of the deposit is now OWED BACK to the bank. The Scammer has your product, your contact information and you have NOTHING!
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?
Banks do not clear out of state checks right away. A portion of whatever you deposited is available for immediate use or withdrawal. The Scammer is betting on the fact that you do not suspect anything foul. Even if the bank checks the routing and account number, it could be a legitimate check.
TIME is on the Scammer's side. They take the opportunity from the "lag time" for the check to clear to perpetrate the fraud. Sometimes, it is NOT about the product but about obtaining your personal information. Either way, you are screwed!
HOW TO OUT-SMART A SCAMMER
Legitimate sellers have become a growing target. For this reason, it is better never to go outside a selling system such as Ebay, PayPal or Amazon. On Craigslist, the scams are more prevalent with very little protection provided for the seller. Most transactions are completed in person but do you really want a stranger to know where you live?
If you have an ECommerce store, create a safer purchase transaction environment by adding a Google or PayPal shopping cart to your site. Both Google and PayPal provide safety measures for BOTH the seller and buyer, thus limiting the scams that could be potentially damaging.
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