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Richard’s Story – Overpayment Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by a Hoax-Slayer reader as a warning to other Internet users.  Names and other details have been changed to protect the privacy of the victim.


Several months ago, I decided to sell my baby grand piano. I had posted it on eBay, and had a number of inquiries via e-mail.

Among them was one individual who asked that should he purchase the piano, he would like to pay substantially more than the agreed on price, the balance of which then would then be refunded to him via Western Union. His command of English was relatively poor and he was unable to provide information as to what piano shipping company in my city he planned to use.
I was skeptical about his proposal, but I did receive in the mail a very official-looking bank money order. However, when I took the check to my bank for deposit, they identified it as fraudulent and told me I was being subjected to an overpayment scheme.

I decided to play a bit with the scammer by sending him a ten digit made up Western Union cash transfer number. I surmised that this fellow had fallen for the bait since in a subsequent e-mail he informed me that I was a scammer and that he had reported me to local authorities, and also the FBI and the State Attorney General’s office. Both of these reports were accompanied by supposed case numbers. I never heard from him again.

Editor’s Note:
Overpayment scams are very common and take many forms. If you are selling something online, be very wary of ‘buyers’ who wish to send you a cheque or money order for more than the original purchase price of the item. Often, the scammers will claim that the extra money is to cover shipping or other associated costs. They will ask you to wire the extra funds to a designated ‘shipping agent’ via a money transfer system such as Western Union. As Richard discovered, the cheque or money order will turn out to be fake or stolen.

In other versions, the scammers will offer the potential victims a job or pretend to be interested in using their services. Again, they will send more than the agreed upon salary or service fee and ask that the remainder be wired to a third party.



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,
Hoax-Slayer