Guide To Avoiding Fraud - Part 2
Counterfeit Cashiers Checks
If you are selling a car be careful when a buyer shows up to pay you with a bank draft or cashier's check. You think to yourself it's as good as cash and give them the car. Unfortunately you get notified by your bank 7 days later that it's a counterfeit cashier's check. You became a fraud victim and had your car stolen!
To avoid being a victim of this fraud, do not give them the car until the cashier's check clears. Do not be tricked when you see the balance added to your account. This does not mean the check has cleared which can take up to 2 weeks. Verify that it has cleared with your bank and then give the buyer the car. You can also call the issuing bank to verify that the check is real and the funds will clear. You have to be even more careful with personal checks and I don't recommend you accept them!
Beware of "Wired Money"
Some scammers tell you they wired the money, for example $14,000, to your bank account and then say "oops, we wired you too much, it was supposed to be $4,000, but you know, typos happen." So they ask you to please wire them back the difference of $10,000. The scammer lied to you. He did not really wire money to you. What he really did was send a fake cashier's check to your bank to deposit into your account. Just like the scams above, the money hasn't really cleared even though it shows in your balance. Do not send them money!
Don't ever in a million years give anyone your bank account information to "wire you money." They will create phony checks using your account number and drain your account dry.
"Nigerian" Counterfeit Cashiers Check Scam
This is similar to the other Cashiers Check Scams, but the buyer/scammer does not come to your home. Instead, the crime is executed via email and mail fraud using FedEx or other official looking overnight services. The buyer/scammer usually claims to be some huge overseas shipping company with a client interested in your car or they claim to be in another country and can't get to the U.S. But, his friend in the U.S. who owes him $20,000 can buy the car from you on his behalf.
Since you aren't asking that much for your car (for this example you are asking $11,500) the scammer proposes that he have his friend just send you the full $20,000. Once you deposit the money you will "wire the remaining $8,500 back to the buyer" who will arrange a transport truck to come get the car from you. He makes you feel better when he insists for you to wait until the check clears before you wire him the remaining funds.
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, the check hasn't really cleared yet, but it looks like the funds are in your account. To avoid this scam, never agree to a deal where you will refund money back to the buyer. Also, if you are selling on eBay Motors you can block international bidders.
Example "Nigerian Scam" Email
Subject: Acura Integra LS
We are LONDON based valuable procurement concern that specialise in the purchase and shipping of CARS to our numerous customers worldwide. We have a customer interested in purchasing your car mentioned above for the sum of $10,500.00. We will arrange a pick up of the car once payment is confirmed by the seller. Please acknowledge the offer and we will instruct the buyer to have the funds remitted to your account as soon as possible.
export director [Jude Egobia]
What to Do If You Are a Victim
Unfortunately no one really cares about your problem. Everybody from the local police to the Secret Service will tell you to forget about it when you call them, because once money is wired to Europe and picked up, it's out of their jurisdiction and they cannot reverse a Western Union transfer. Foreign governments offer no help at all.
- If you used Western Union call their Fraud Department at 800-325-6000 and at least try to determine where your money was picked up and if there was a camera at that location that caught it. You'll have to contact the police in the area where the money was picked up, usually in Europe.
- If you wired your money to a bank there is a small glimmer of hope, but time is working against you, so move fast. Try to reverse the bank wire through your bank and alert the receiving bank their account is being used for money laundering outside the U.S.
- If you paid via E-Gold, E-Bullion, EvoCash, Islamic e-Dinar or other currency converting services your goal is to get the service to wire your funds back to you, or let you into "your" account to do it yourself. Contact them and give it a try.
If You Are a Fraud Victim Get Credit Monitoring
Scammers use your personal information to get credit cards and setup escrow fraud sites using your name, so you take the heat from victims. If they have any of your info you better get credit monitoring that gives you weekly alerts when someone takes out credit in your name, or views your credit file. If you entered your name on an escrow site, scammers will use that information.
Credit monitoring services are available from Experian, TrueCredit or Equifax. When scammers get a credit card in your name, you must act quickly to shut it down. Your credit report shows who accessed your credit file. I signed up to Equifax Credit Watch which notifies you of changes to your credit file. As a bonus you get your credit report and FICO credit score 4 times a year.