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Cheque Scam

Check Scam - fraud involving payment in advance for expensive goods.

Sometimes you may receive e-mail messages where the sender is apparently trying to buy some expensive goods from you, usually for delivery to some far away country. The message appears unexpectedly, and the buyer is hoping to purchase such things as ten of the latest mobile phones, fifty hidebound bibles with gold-leaf edge, a snazzy car, five professional quality tennis rackets, etc. Such buyers are often quite insistent, and if you run a business it might seem tempting to agree to the deal and to send the goods out to wherever it is. But beware. Here is how the scam works:

You get paid by cheque (check), and strange as it may seem, when you pay it into the bank, the cheque clears ok! This now looks as if you have safely got the money. However, that's the problem. You have not truly got the money just because the cheque clears.

What happens is, if you assume you have the money as the cheque has cleared, and you dispatch the expensive goods, you may find to your horror that the money has been clawed back!

How can that be? The cheque had cleared ok!

The answer is: The cheque was stolen. Stolen cheques will clear when paid into the bank, but as the payment is wrong, it being misappropriated funds, it has to be reversed.

The "stolen" nature of the cheques is a further level of the problem. Sometimes they are cheques stolen from a business, or from a government office, by thieves, burglars, an "inside job" maybe. But sometimes the cheques can be stolen by arrangement with the owner. In some countries where corruption is endemic, it's quite possible for the original owner of the cheques to be in on the scam. In some places it's not so likely. But either way, if you fall for the confidence trick you still lose your money.

To avoid this, make sure that with transactions the payment is guaranteed by the bank.

Also, it's best to be very wary of suspicious messages where a proposed deal looks dodgy.

Worryingly, I have heard that a bad cheque can sometimes take six months to be shown up. Clearly the banks need to get their act together to defeat this kind of thing! If a cheque is "cleared", then it should actually be CLEARED!

Other dodgy schemes exposed: The Nigeria Scam , Pyramid Schemes , Triangulation , Fake Jobs , Chain Letters , Scams , etc.