View Full Version : Another overpayment scam victim
25 February 2006, 00:50
I am embarassed to write that I am one recent victim. I wish I had looked into scams and found your site earlier. While the initial contact looked a little fishy I allowed myself to be fooled by the forged check technique. I was not going to return any funds "until the check cleared". This was acceptable by the scammer and I did not know that a bank "clearing a check" is not the guarantee of funds that I always thought it was.
Thanks to Western Union I only lost half of what I could have lost. They recognised one of the two names I sent funds to and called me. Western Union stopped the one transfer and returned the funds to me. The bank, when called, explained thier proceedures and barely said sorry but it was wholly my mistake. The local police told me I did not even have a crime to report until the bank declared the check to be a forgery!
The scammer even had the nerve to keep calling and emailing me to complain that the funds were not retrievable on his end. Of course it was from a phone that was ID blocked. The email traces back through IP addresses that are possibly linked to the Bank of Iran! I hope I did not fund terrorism.
I am already resigned to the loss of funds but I would like to try to do more than give up. Can anyone tell me what to do next and who to contact?
25 February 2006, 03:49
Yes, you were involved with a fraud! I am sorry to say there is not much recourse to get your money returned. I am glad someone was able to warn you and get part of the money returned to you. You are in the right place, read and learn. Then tell everyone you know about these scammers and how they operate. You have joined the ranks of many who have been duped by these people. I know that is not much consolation, but just to know you are not alone helps. Ask as many questions as you feel you need to, and someone will try their best to answer. Stay informed! I have put some sites at the bottom. You might want to see if any of them suit your purpose.
FraudWatchers - Monitoring the Internet for Fraud
25 February 2006, 07:28
Hello Mark and welcome to Fraudwatchers!
If it's any consolation to you, at least you caught the scam in time and did not lose everything that you have. Some victims realize that they've been dealing with scammers only after they are knee deep in debt and their lives are nothing short of ruined. In your situation, you can at least count this one as a life experience, never to be repeated.
Make no mistake, I am not trying to play down your losses. I am just happy that you were warned off in time, and silently thanking all the gods in the world that you didn't face any extensive trouble.
The law enforcement will be unfortunately of little help in your situation. While it's understandable that you are infuriated about the situation, the criminal law aspects at play here are in murky waters, to say the least. The law enforcement, that has to deal on an every day basis with home invasions, murders and carjackings is hardly capable of tracking down internet scammers of this kind. They do not have the funding for it, and the intricacies of tracking down IP addresses and such often evade law enforcement officers as well.
Having said that, I would strongly encourage you to do the following. Go to this link:
and file a complaint there. That law enforcement project is keeping priceless statistics on internet crime, and every victim posting their complaint to them brings more and more attention to the problem of check scams. While this will not directly get back at the scammer who sent you the check, it will add one more complaint to the pile. The more, the merrier.
If you have some spare time on your hands and feel like typing, you may want to consider writing up the story of the scam and posting it here. Information like that is priceless for other victims, who can see how such a scam works and hear about the consequences of it from someone who was actually scammed. It is also a pretty good way of getting back at the scammer, because the more people are informed of the ways in which such organized crime operates, the less victims scammers are capable of drawing into their games.
I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is what it is. If you have any more questions and\or need further advice, please post here at your earliest convenience.
Thanks for reading!
25 February 2006, 12:28
The link for reporting the crime is most appreciated. I will be writing the whole thing up as soon as I get a chance. The lesson I have learned but hardest part of this for me to swallow is the bank not being responsible at all. How can an institution, as trustworhty as abank is supposed to be, get away wtih clearing a check and then weeks later declaring it no longer good?
25 February 2006, 12:33
Warrior Girl also gets Thanks for the links. I need to learn how this sites work. I should have read both replys before writing my last post.:oops:
25 February 2006, 12:38
Banks work on a system of trust, which is why our cheques get cleared quickly. If we did have to wait the correct amount of time, then trade and industry would grind to a halt. It can take weeks, months and I've heard years, to correctly clear a cheque.
I know it isn't any consolation to you personally, but I agree that the banking system has a fundemental flaw that needs fixing so the criminals cannot use it to their advantage.
In the mean time, people like yourself suffer because of loopholes that the general public at large are completely unaware of. :(
25 February 2006, 12:52
In the UK there are a lot of complaints that it takes as long as 3 days to clear a cheque. Unfortunately there is a trade-off between getting your money quickly and making sure that the cheque is valid.
25 February 2006, 17:37
How can an institution, as trustworhty as abank is supposed to be, get away wtih clearing a check and then weeks later declaring it no longer good?
Unfortunately, you learned too late what I only learned after becoming involved with the anti-scam community for some months. And what probably 99% of consumers don't know. That "making funds available" and "clearing" a check are two totally different things, and that you, the person who cashes the check, bear the most of the responsibility on confirming that a check is legitimate. That, and the fact that clearing a check can take eons.
To expand a bit on what John Fairheart said, this is my understanding of banking policy and law. Banks work on two main tenets. Trust and speed. They make funds available to the check casher on speculation that the check is going to prove to be legitimate, and backed up by proper funds on the other end. If a bank held onto what you perceived as your money for the months it might require to actually clear the check, you would not be a happy customer. Business would probably grind to a halt if banks actually waited for all funds to clear.
In the past, a check was not cleared, properly, until it had been physically returned to the issuing bank, inspected, and the issuing bank confirms the account exists and there are funds to back up the check. Since most banks accomplished this by physically mailing/shipping the check back to the issuing bank, and because most banks probably hold onto checks until they have a decent bundle to send to a certain bank, in order to keep costs down, it could take weeks or even several months for the check to actually physically return to the issuing bank. If a check is stolen and issued on a real account, the real customer might notice it on their statement and report it within a few weeks to the issuing bank, even if the physical copy hasn't come back. But if the check was a forgery, on a non-existent account, the bank won't notice until they receive that physical check and notify your bank that the account doesn't even exist. Of course, at that point, your bank comes looking for their money, which they view as having been "loaned" to you, interest free, pending the clearance of the check. Which is most unfortunate for the victim.
The one heartening thing is that with the Check 21 act now in effect in the United States, banks will eventually be forced to clear checks faster if they want to stay competitive. Instead of relying on physically shipping the original check, they will be able to process check information electronically and can send "substitute check" copies, if the issuing bank wants to receive paper copies, to the issuing bank in order to clear a check.
While they aren't required by law to conform to the new method of clearing a check electronically, I'm betting "peer pressure" and the need to stay fast and competitive will result in most banks moving to this faster method within a few years. Even the ability to send that "substitue check" will speed things up slightly. Not to mention, the banks really don't want to lose money on victims who cannot repay their losses quickly and possibly lengthy legal proceedings to recover their money from fake check victims. So banks have a money stake in this as well.
I'm sure it will take a few years, but I'm hoping it will be much harder to pass a forged check in coming years. In the meantime, hopefully, stories like yours will help warn others. Trust me, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. And every friend, acquaintance and family member you share this with will be unlikely to fall for the same ploy.
25 February 2006, 18:02
In the US, my bank also says it takes "2-5" days to clear a check. The truth of the matter is that it takes much longer.
A few years back, I had a garage sale, and at the end of the garage sale, a guy came up and offered to buy a bunch of odds and ends for a check. I NEVER take checks at a garage sale, but this guy looked nice, and he had his little girl with him. Plus, he banked at the same bank I do, an internationally known bank with branches all over the world. So I gave in and let him write a check.
That was a mistake.
I put the check into my bank account, and sure enough, three days later, the check clears. I add the money to my budget, and spend it. Finally, the bank calls me, not one week later, not two weeks later, not a month later, but TWO monehts later, telling me that the account was closed, and the checks were bad.
I learned that just because you and your friend are both Wells Fargo or US Bank, or whatever national bank chain, members, that you could actually be in two totally different "banks".
I enrolled online, and so my "bank" was located out of Texas. The guy who wrote me a bad check was out of one of the "banks" in another town in the state I lived in. When I put the money in the bank, in my town. The bank "assumed" that the accounts were all okay from their other branches, and gave me the money as soon as the check was received in the texas "bank" I was out of.
Then the check made it's slow progress from Texas to the scammers originating bank. Basically, the bank in texas goes to one branch, hands them the check, and takes the money. The next branch does the same thing. Hand off the check, and get the cash. By the time it gets to the town branch of the scammer, the money changed hands a few times. Now it has to go in reverse. A "bad check" stamp is placed on the check, and his "bank" passes it down, and asks for the money back.
Etcetera down a few more weeks, and I'm sitting in my home when a bank investigator calls me asking me why I cashed a bad check. Long story short, I lost $100 and the scammer didn't get caught, because it would have cost me more to find and prosecute him than the check was worth.
That all happened under a single Banking name. Admittedly, that bank has taken huge leaps at making their communication process between branches better recently, but that's still how it works between seperate banks. And if the bank is overseas, like a check for British bank a scammer recently sent me, you might as well assume that it's going to take 6 months to a year for that check to really and truly get resolved.
I have several friends who are in law enforcement. They all agree, checks are terrible, and scammers can use them to their advantage.
I'm sorry for your loss man, but like others have said, at least it wasn't worse than it could have been. You still have some of your money, as well as your health and lives. That's better than some scam victims, I'm afraid.
Go to IC3 and report it. Contact your bank, if you didn't already. They might help expedite the process, and might be willing to work with you to help you pay back the lost money. Local Law enforcement is useful once the crime is officially comitted, but before that, it's not a whole lot of help.
Keep your spirits up. If you want to do something to fight scams, I'm sure many here will share their experiences.
Welcome to the site. I hope yu find what you need,
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