Criminals use a large variety of nefarious schemes to "launder" their ill gotten gains and/or trick unwary victims into sending them money or personal information. One such scheme involves sending the victim a cheque or money order for considerably more than a previously agreed upon price and asking him or her to wire the "extra" amount to a specified recipient. The scammers claim that the extra money is to cover further costs such as supplies or shipping fees.
In reality, the victim will be unknowingly sending the money directly back to the scammers, usually as a cash wire transfer. In this way, criminals are able to reap the proceeds of their crimes without leaving a trail that will lead the police to their door. For example, the scammer may send the victim a cheque for several thousand dollars, which is supposedly enough to cover the cost of an item he is purchasing as well as a "delivery" fee that is to be forwarded to a third party "agent". The victim will be instructed to bank the cheque, and once it clears, send the extra amount to the agent via a wire transfer. Alas, the cheque will turn out to be stolen and investigations may lead police to the victim who processed it. Meanwhile, the criminal has been able to procure a sizable portion of the stolen money in the form of untraceable cash.
The following real life example should help to illustrate how these overpayment scammers operate.
The scammer first contacted his potential victim with the following message:
Subject: Can You BabySit For Me
My name is Dr Bill, I need a babysitter for my twins, i live in london Canada but am coming down to your area in the state for a Six Weeks seminar and am coming down with my set of twins,i lost my wife some months back and i cant leave my babies behinde here in Canada.
Please get back to me if you are intrested in babysitting for my twins.I need someone that will take care of them as her own baby. Please get back to be on time so we can arrange how possible this will be.
The potential victim responded and, after more correspondence, a price for the babysitting work was arranged. The scammer then sent the following message:
Thanks for the prompt response, I have informed my colleague that i have gotten someone who will be caring for my Kids and am really looking up to the care you will give to my KIDS.I will have the deposit and the payment for your service for babysitting my Kids made to you prior to my arrival, Also I have contacted a store that will be shipping the KIDS item to your address with the KIDS toys,i just want to inform you about this and i will be forwarding money for the KIDS item plus your a month wages,so you can forward the money for the KIDS item to the Store Manager and she can send the items to you before i arrive with the KIDS and so you can put everything in place prior to our arrival.
Get back to me with your Full Name and Address including your phone number.
Anticipating to meet you and get the best care for the KIDS.Also i will be staying in an hotel, i will let you know the exact address before we arrive. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Thus, the scammer intended to send money for a babysitting deposit as well as extra to be forwarded to a "Store Manager" who would supposedly send supplies for the children after receiving payment. In reality, this extra money would have been sent back to the scammer or an accomplice after the babysitter inadvertently banked a stolen or bogus cheque.
Thankfully, the intended victim in this case became suspicious and pulled out of the "agreement" before it was too late. Unfortunately, many victims do fall for overpayment and job offer laundering scams every day.
Internet users should be very suspicious of any business arrangements in which the buyer or client offers to send an amount over the agreed price with instructions to forward the extra money to a third party. The following links provide more information about overpayment and payment transfer job scams: