Fake check overpayment
How the scam works
- The scammer offers to give you a check for more than the selling price. They tell you to deposit the check and send the difference back to them.
- The check is fake, but if you deposit it, it’ll appear in your account balance. That's because financial institutions must make your money available quickly, usually within two days.
- When a bank says the check cleared, that doesn’t mean it was a good check. It can take weeks for the bank to figure out the check was fake. By that time, the scammer has the item you sold and the money you sent back. And the bank takes the money from the fake check out of your account.
Online classifieds example:
- You’re selling an item for $200.
- A buyer sends you a check for $500.
- You deposit the check, return the difference of $300, and ship your item.
- A few weeks later, the bank tells you the check was fake and takes $500 out of your account.
- You’ve lost $300 in cash - plus the item you were selling.
Fake verification codes
- A scammer posing as a buyer says they’ve heard about fake online listings and wants to verify that you’re a real person.
- They send you a text message with a Google Voice verification code and ask you for that code.
- If you give it to them, they’ll use it to create a Google Voice number linked to your phone number.
- Then the scammer could use the Google Voice number to rip off other people.
- If someone tracks the Google Voice number, it’ll be linked to your real phone number.
- That’s how scammers conceal their identity.
Tips to avoid these scams:
- Don’t accept a mobile payment from someone you don’t know.
- Never deposit a check for more than the selling price.
- Don’t share your Google Voice verification code — or any verification code — with someone you don’t know.