Overpayment Cheque Scam
Home Scams Craigslist Overpayment Scam Warning Message

Craigslist Overpayment Scam Warning Message

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on April 23, 2013

Message circulating on Facebook describes a Craigslist user’s experience with an overpayment scam and warns other users to watch out for such criminal tactics.

Brief Analysis:
The warning is legitimate. Overpayment scams are very common and occur not just on Craigslist but on many other sites where people sell items online. Overpayment scams are designed to launder the proceeds of crime. They attempt to trick victims into accepting fake or stolen cheques or allowing money transfers from hijacked bank accounts. Do not proceed with any transaction that asks you to accept more than the agreed price for an item and wire the remaining amount to a third party.

Warning ! Waring ! Please Please Read There is a scam going around and I was almost a victim of it today. I recently posted an ad on Craig’s list I was contacted by a person that sent me a check for 1500.00 for the item I was selling. When I received the check today it was for the amount of 4000.00. When I asked why the check was for so much they informed me that the extra money was to be shipped via western union to the shipper so the item could be picked up and delivered. I got suspicious and took the check to my bank to make sure this check was ligit. I was informed that it was in fact a fake. The bank told me that if I had cashed this check that it would have come back to me and I would be responsible for the 4000.00 and they would have access to all my banking information. I am asking everyone to please like and share this post to make it go viral so this does not happen to you or anyone you know or any hard working Americans. Here is a picture of the check below. Please take the time to like and share. Lets get this thing viral.Craigslist Overpayment Scam

Detailed Analysis:
This message, which has circulated on Facebook since 2013, describes how a user of online buying and selling portal Craigslist was almost scammed when attempting to sell an item. A supposed buyer agreed to purchase an item for $1500 but sent the seller a cheque for $4000, with a request to wire the extra amount to a third party via Western Union, ostensibly to cover shipping costs. However, the cheque was in fact bogus, and if he had proceeded, the seller would have been left out of pocket.

The scam described in the warning message is real and is in fact very common. Overpayment scams like the one described occur regularly, not just on Craigslist but on many other online selling websites.

Typically, an overpayment scam works like this:

  • A seller places an advertisement for an item with a high price tag via an online selling website.
  • Later, the seller receives a generous offer for the item.
  • The seller agrees on the price.
  • The scammers then send a cheque for the item. However, the cheque is for substantially more than the specified amount.
  • The scammers invent some excuse for this overpayment and ask that the balance be electronically sent to a specified third-party via a wire service such as Western Union. For example, they may claim that the extra funds are to pay the fees of an agent who is handling the sale or to cover shipping costs.
  • The seller transfers the amount out of his or her own funds.
  • Later, the seller finds that his or her bank has dishonoured the cheque. In some cases, the bank may actually have cleared the funds, but discovered later that the cheque is a forgery or was stolen.
  • Thus the seller has been bilked out of a substantial amount, with little chance of recovering the money. Furthermore, the item remains unsold and the seller may have rejected legitimate offers in the mean time.

In some versions of the scam, the criminals ask to transfer funds directly into the victim’s bank account and again request that the extra funds be withdrawn and sent via a money wire service. The money will actually be transferred from a hijacked bank account and is an attempt by criminals to launder the proceeds of crime. There are many other variants of the same basic scam.

Do not go ahead with any sale in which the buyer asks you to accept more than the agreed price and wire the remaining funds to a third party. This is not a legitimate way of doing business and any such request should be viewed as highly suspect.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,