Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Fraudulent Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Check Net-based Bank Draft / Postal Money Order Online Over-payment "Criminal Cashback" Auction Purchase / Rent Payment Scams

As a rule, any scheme that asks someone to accept money orders or cashiers checks and then return money by wire to a party overseas should be considered a scam.

One of the current schemes involves a scammer contacting someone who has an item for sale on the Internet. The person pulling the scam will send the seller a check for more than the amount of what they are purchasing, like sending a $7,000 check for a $5,000 car.

They ask that the seller return the difference. By the time the check clears and is discovered to be counterfeit, the seller is out a couple thousand dollars.

The target is usually a person selling a relatively expensive item on the Internet, or possibly even in newspaper classified ads. The seller is approached by an individual, usually from a foreign country, who wants to buy the item and pay with a cashier’s check.

The buyer then says that he or she can only send a cashier’s check for an amount greater than the price of the item, and asks the seller to mail back a check for the difference. The difference may be several thousand dollars. The unsuspecting victim sends the buyer the difference and only later finds out the cashier’s check was counterfeit.

What makes this plot work is that most people place great confidence in cashier’s checks. Cashier’s checks are generally considered much safer than personal checks, since they are issued by financial institutions that have already verified the existence of sufficient funds. Personal checks can “bounce” when there are insufficient funds in the check writer’s account; cashier’s checks do not bounce.

The counterfeits are generally of excellent quality and may even fool the bank initially.
Unfortunately, this scam can harm innocent citizens twice. Under some state laws, the bank may be considered the actual victim of the crime, while the citizen is may be viewed as the perpetrator for passing the counterfeit check.

Adding further to the deviousness of the scheme is the fact that the criminal does not ask for an advance fee. More and more people are savvy enough to recognize the request for an advance fee as the tell-tale sign of the so-called Nigerian fraud.

The counterfeit cashier’s check scam has found a way to disguise this red flag. The consumer is offered a large sum to deposit, so the refund check seems to be covered.

In order to avoid detection by the fraud department of Western Union, the scammers are now asking that the larger amounts be sent in two or more smaller transfers.

While there has been a huge increase in the use of counterfeit cashier's checks by Nigerians in the later part of 2003, this article clearly indicates it has taken a while to perfect this online scam.

Counterfeiters switch to cashier's checks

By Laura Bruce •

Cashier's checks have always had a reputation for being as good as cash, but that's not a sure thing anymore. The reputation has gotten tarnished as more and more counterfeiters opt to phony-up cashier's checks and pass them off to folks like you.

"People are getting sophisticated with PCs and scanners. We're going to be seeing a lot more of this," says Marty Ramage, fraud expert with The People's Bank & Trust Company of Tupelo, Miss.

Ramage says one of his bank's cashier's checks was counterfeited a few weeks ago.

The way it works is the counterfeiter comes into the bank, gets a legitimate cashier's check and then uses a scanner to copy it on to a computer. With the help of some printing software, the counterfeit can be doctored -- payable to anyone, for any amount.

"It's put a bind on our bank on accepting cashier's checks," Ramage says. "In the past we would have taken a cashier's check from any bank across the nation without question. All banks have been accustomed to treating cashier's checks as cash. Not anymore. Everyone has to take some safeguards."

The FDIC is receiving reports of several fake cashier's checks each month.

"Some are complete phonies -- the bank name is phony, the city is misspelled. But some are identical copies, and it's really difficult to tell they're fake," according to Gene Seitz of the FDIC's special activity section.

Seitz says very few of the counterfeit cashier's checks are being cashed at banks; they're being used to pay individuals and merchants.

Seitz advises everyone who receives a cashier's check as payment to call the issuing bank and make sure it authorized that check.

That means consumers should think twice before accepting a cashier's check no matter how real it looks. If someone tries to give you a $2,000 cashier's check for your used car, or a $30 cashier's check for something you're selling on Ebay, don't accept the payment until the issuing bank has verified it.

-- Posted: Feb. 13, 2001

Police say residents trying to sell personal property should be aware of a fraud scheme involving overseas buyers.

The scam involves foreigners who answer classified ads or bid on items through online auctions.

The scammers offer to buy an item and send payment through a cashier's check that is written for an amount significantly more than the item's price.

The buyer then contacts the seller and says the cashier's check was written in error. The person asks the seller to wire transfer the difference -- typically several thousand dollars.

The cashier's check turns out to be counterfeit and is returned to the seller's bank and taken out of the seller's account with no recourse for recovery.

Don't Chat With a Rat

An Internet-based scam to defraud people of cash starts in chat rooms on the Internet where participants tell a hardship story, usually involving having a large check they cannot cash in their own country, usually Nigeria or another West African country.

The suspects in these incidents tell their fellow chat room participants that if they will cash the check, the person cashing it can keep a portion of the proceeds for themselves.

Once the victim agrees, he or she will receive a check in the mail, along with instructions on where to send the remainder of the proceeds after keeping the portion they have been promised. The problem is the accounts are false and the checks are fraudulent.

Nigerian Check Scam Bust

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/18/04 ( excerpt )

A small game of deceit played out two weeks ago in North Versailles.

On Jan. 2, a United Parcel Service deliveryman showed up at a Della Drive apartment with a package addressed to Ken Smith.

A man answered the door and signed for the parcel, which contained more than $200,000 worth of cashier's checks.

But nothing was as it seemed.

The UPS man was really a U.S. postal inspector.

Ken Smith was really a Nigerian named Adebayo B. Adedimila.

And the cashier's checks? Counterfeit.

Adedimila, 28, was taken into custody and faces charges in federal court of trying to defraud 20 people in an Internet auction scheme that is increasingly popular among endlessly resourceful Nigerians.

But it's the auction scheme that is proving more lucrative.

"This is 10 times larger than that," said U.S. Postal Inspector Andrew Richards, head of the Financial Crimes Task Force of Southwestern Pennsylvania. "Instead of going for $60 million, they're going for $6,000. They're going for smaller amounts and they are being incredibly successful."

Typically, a Nigerian will contact a person trying to sell something on Internet auction sites such as eBay.

He tells the seller that he has a "friend" in the United States who owes him money. He says the friend will send the seller a cashier's check, but the check will be for a few thousand dollars more than the item costs.

The check is then shipped to the cohort in the United States -- this was Adedimila's role, federal agents say -- who sends it to the unsuspecting seller through the U.S. mail.

Finally, the buyer asks the seller to send back the extra money by Western Union wire. Some do, and never see their money again.

"Often, the sellers act as requested and wire the additional funds prior to the cashier's check being returned as counterfeit to the seller's bank," said Postal Inspector Joseph Bell in a search warrant affidavit for Adedimila's apartment. "This scheme has affected thousands of victims across the United States and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars."

Some potential victims are smart enough not to be taken.

Two men in Michigan and Georgia were potential marks for Adedimila and his partner in Lagos, Nigeria, who sometimes used the name David Nelson online.

Chris Odom, a photographer from Athens, Ga., was contacted by Nelson last month when he was trying to sell a Nikon camera for $3,750 on a professional sports photography auction site.

Nelson initially bid $4,000.

But later he sent this note, written in the kind of halting English that agents say scammers use to make themselves seem authentic:

"Hello Chris, I must tell you that payment will be in excess of $8,000. I have contacted a friend of mine owing me in USA to make the payment on my behalf to you. I have also instructed him to issue out the check for the amount of $8,000 on your name. After you might have received the check from my client you will need to deduct the cost (of the camera) and have my balance sent to me through Western Union money transfer to London, England, and through my personal assistance name. Reason is because I'm presently out of town for a professional conference in South Africa. David Nelson."

Odom thought the request was bizarre.

"I had a suspicion it was some sort of scam," he said last week.

"If you are serious, you do not need to send a money order to me for $8,000," he wrote back. "The [camera] is for $4,000 and that is well enough with shipping and insurance."

William Corne III, 19, of Saginaw, Mich., didn't fall for the scheme, either. He was selling a subwoofer on eBay for $170, but Nelson wanted to send him $5,000.

"I thought it was ridiculously strange," he said.

Nelson sent the cashier's checks anyway, and did the same for 20 others he had contacted in the U.S. and Canada.

Agents say that's typical, because while most potential marks won't wire back any money, one or two might.

"It's definitely a volume business," Eisenbeiser said.

It works in part because the cashier's checks look so good.

"I've seen them. I defy you to tell they are not real," said Barbara Petito, spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office.

But Nelson apparently didn't count on "Operation Tidalwave," an international crackdown on Nigerian fraud.

On Dec. 23, British customs agents at London's Heathrow Airport intercepted a package of checks originating from Lagos and bound for Ken Smith in North Versailles.

Inspectors found $226,000 worth of phony cashier's checks in the names of Odom, Corne and 18 others. Postal inspectors set up a delivery in which one of them would pose as a deliveryman. That's what happened Jan. 2, when Adedimila was arrested.

The U.S. attorney's office asked that he be detained as a flight risk, but a federal magistrate released him to stay with a Nigerian friend in Turtle Creek. No one there could be reached for comment.

Love on Loan - Opens Heart, Empties Account

PITTSFIELD, MA 02/04 -- She met him on the Internet through an online dating service. The information said he lived in Bethesda, Md., owned two businesses and traveled to Africa for conferences.

They corresponded every day online for about a month. Gradually, he made her feel more comfortable.

"I thought I got to know him pretty well," she said yesterday. "Who knows what's accurate now, but he seemed like a nice guy and a family man."

That was before the "nice guy" took her for $3,500.

In what state police say is a new version of a old scam involving residents of Nigeria trying to obtain money from U.S. citizens, a man recently scammed a Clarksburg woman out of $3,500 when she cashed a cashier's check sent to her from an address in Maryland, presumably to help her new friend pay off a debt. She sent the money in two installments to her new friend at an address in Lagos, Nigeria.

A few days after cashing the check at a local bank, the bank informed her the check had been drawn on a fraudulent account, leaving her responsible for the funds. She said she has had to take out a bank loan to pay it off.

"I hemmed and hawed for four days before going to do it," said the woman, who spoke to The Eagle under the condition that her name be withheld. "I should have listened to my gut."

excerpt -

U.K. Banking Ombudsman Comes to Rescue Nigerian Cheque Scam Auction Victims

04/08/04 - People in Notts using auction websites including eBay to sell their possessions are being conned by people posing as legitimate customers. Reporter GUY WOODFORD investigates what can go wrong and how people can make sure they don't fall into the traps set by internet fraudsters

The man called himself Teje - and he had just bid £6,000 on eBay for a motorbike being sold by a man from the south of Nottinghamshire.

The seller was happy with the price - and happier still when a cheque for £8,400 arrived in the post.

The extra £2,400 was for haulage costs, and the seller thought he had got a good deal.

"Teje said he would send a cheque for me to deposit and, after it had cleared, to take £6,000 out for the motorbike and send on the remaining money to an address he gave me in London," he said.

"When I received the cheque it appeared genuine.

"I deposited the cheque at my local Halifax branch on January 28 and my bank receipt said funds would be available from February 2 [three working days].

"I drew out £1,000 on February 2, and a further £1,400 the following day without trouble - and sent the money via Western Union money transfer to an alternative address in Amsterdam that Teje had given."

But then things began to go wrong.

"I thought everything was fine until Teje e-mailed on February 3 to ask for more money to help pay for his mother's medical care," the victim said.

"I went back to my branch the next day to express my concern and the bank manageress looked up the cheque deposit and found that it had bounced.

"I asked why I had been able to get the money, if the cheque had not cleared, and she said that customers could draw on cheques after three days even though they might not necessarily have cleared.

"I was astounded. If the cheque hadn't cleared why did the cashier not say anything when I went in to make withdrawals on it over two consecutive days."

He added: "I've still got my motorbike, but I'm having to pay £2,400 back to the bank."

The unnamed victim is keen to highlight his story so that others do not repeat his mistake.

He added: "This Teje person later phoned me up and asked if I had been trying to get in touch with him.

"I said no - why would I want to talk to a man who had conned me?

"He then said, 'Oh, you obviously know what's going on'. Then he hung up."

The victim added: "I am awaiting the outcome of a Halifax complaints procedure I am following, as I did nothing wrong and want my money back."

Notts police fraud squad has been kept busy investigating internet auction cons.

Detective Sgt Harry Parsonage said they were getting one to three cases referred to them every month.

"The people doing this are usually from abroad, predominantly Africa, which makes them very hard to trace," said Det Sgt Parsonage.

"Some people recognise that something is not right and don't part with any money, but, unfortunately, others do.

"It may be that they want a quick sale, or a cheque or banker's draft appears to be real and the seller's tale genuine.

"These fraudsters will be e-mailing hundreds, if not thousands, of people selling items on the internet. If only one per cent of those fall for their act, they can still make a lot of money.

"Our advice would be that, if you doubt a buyer's claims at any time, don't agree to any sale."

The fraudsters' scam rests on the fact that the haulage companies they tell their victims to pay money into are fakes.

In fact, they have set up these companies themselves - and the money goes straight into the conmen's pocket. But they are not always successful.

Philip Jenkins, 37, received an e-mail from a Dr Scott, in Botswana, offering £2,600 for a motorhome he was selling.

Dr Scott sent a banker's draft for £6,000, asking Mr Jenkins to take out the cost of the motor home and send the remainder of the money back to an address in Syria.

Mr Jenkins, from Manton, near Worksop, did not attempt to cash the banker's draft - but phoned Notts Police fraud squad instead. It is now investigating the incident.

"The first few e-mails from Doctor Scott said he was keen to buy a motorbike for his son and he liked what I was selling," said Philip.

"He clearly didn't understand the difference between a motor home and a motorbike.

"Then I got sent a £6,000 International Bank of Ireland bankers draft in the name of a Dr Smith. It looked very authentic - but my gut instinct was that something was wrong.

"Whoever this person was, he was not getting a penny out of me."

The new scam has raised concerns, however, at the way in which some banks deal with cashing and clearing cheques.

Jason Clarke, press officer for the Halifax, said it was the bank's policy to allow customers to withdraw money before a cheque has cleared.

He said he could not comment in detail on the case of the Notts man who paid out £2,400 until his complaint has been dealt with.

But he added: "The receipt this customer has got quite clearly says that funds are available - but that does not mean that the cheque had cleared.

"The customer still has a responsibility, under the management of his account, to pay back any funds from a cheque that has bounced.

"Our advice when selling a car or other personal item for a large sum, is to never, ever, accept a personal cheque.

"Always insist on a banker's draft or a building society cheque, as they won't bounce."

But Sandra Quinn, of the Association of Payment and Clearing Services, which represents all banks operating clearing systems, said that bank customers were "usually" under no obligation to pay back the amount of a fraudulent cheque, if it had been wrongly cashed.

She said: "The issue of when a cheque can be cashed, as opposed to when it has cleared, is coming up time and again across the country.

"Bank terms and conditions vary, but generally a bank that cashes a cheque does not have the right to demand money back.

"The banking ombudsman takes a strong line against banks that have paid out on fraudulent cheques.

"It can order a bank to pay a compensation award to a customer, on top of the value of a refunded cheque.

"Anyone who is not happy with the verdict of their bank's complaints procedure can take their case to the banking ombudsman."

Anyone who would like to report an internet auction con, or wants to find out more about how they can protect themselves, can call Notts Police fraud squad on 0115 967 0999.

excerpt -

Residents warned of Nigerian check scam

By TOMMY HAYNES - Paragould Daily Press 04/0704

Arkansas - According to Ron Stephens, president of Unico Bank, a few individuals from Paragould have fallen prey to a fraudulent scheme coined the "Nigerian Check Scam."

According to Stephens, this is how the scam works:

Those participating in the scam will attempt to make contact with possible victims, asking them to wire money to them in exchange for a cashier's check.

They will then send a phony cashier's check for the amount, or possibly more, of cash they wish to receive. The victim then typically cashes the phony cashier's check, wires the money to the individual, and is left owing the bank money when it is determined that the check is not good.

At least three incidents of this scam have been seen by officials from Unico Bank within the past few weeks.

According to Stephens, one woman had made contact with an individual who she thought she had befriended over a period of a few weeks.

After trust had been obtained through internet conversation, the individual asked if he could send the woman a cashier's check and receive money in return. She agreed to cash the check, which turned out to be $4,800.

In the end, she was the one who was required to pay the bank, as the $4,800 she sent was not good.

Stephens stated that individuals should always be skeptical of individuals they meet over the internet who are interested in making monetary transactions.

If one does decide to pursue such endeavors, Stephens encourages individuals to make sure that the funds are good before cashing them. All it takes is a simple call to the bank from which the cashier's check originated.

Often times, such as in the instance of the aforementioned woman, the check may include the name of a real bank. In addition, the information on the check may appear to be legitimate. In fact, calling the bank to ensure that the money is good is often the only tool one can use.

With one simple call, possible scam victims could potentially save a considerable amount of money if they take the time to check.

"If you receive a cashier's check in the mail, call the bank and verify that it's good," Stephens said.

Stephens stated that tellers at Unico Bank have been alerted of the presence of the scam, and that they will constantly be on the lookout. However, this is sometimes not enough, as some fraudulent checks appear so legitimate that they will slip past some tellers.

"Most people think ‘this is a cashier's check so it must be good,'" Stephens said. "But it could be fraudulent. Know who you're taking the check from and verify the funds before cashing it."

Internet Auction Bad Check Fraud

A "buyer" will approach the seller via e-mail. That person, usually from Nigeria, the Netherlands or England, claims an associate or client in the United States owes him money and then sends the seller a cashier's check for more money than what is needed for the sale.

The buyer then requests the seller deposit the check and deduct the amount for the sale and shipping and then wire the balance back to him at his address.

What happens is the seller deposits the check. The bank will hold it for a day or two and then give the seller the money. Once the seller receives the money, he becomes responsible for it.

It is usually days later when the seller discovers the check was counterfeit and they now owe money to their bank.

These guys come across as legitimate buyers, but in the middle of things they'll start rushing the seller saying they need the money right away. One of them told a seller his mother had died and he needed the money for a funeral.

Online fraud strikes valley as Local bankers detect more scams

By Craig Wolf - Poughkeepsie Journal

05/06/04 - In a world that's increasingly online and global, it's no surprise that fraud is, too. But old scams in new guises are taking local consumers by surprise -- and costing them thousands.

An alarm was put out Wednesday by a local financial institution about frauds, most of which occur over the Internet and overseas.

"It seems to be growing by leaps and bounds," said Paul Stull, spokesman for Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union. "A lot of folks are losing money."

Vincent Curcio, of the Town of Poughkeepsie, had a close call that nearly cost him $7,800. Curcio offered his 1998 Honda Accord on an auto Web site and got an offer of $9,200 from a man who claimed to be in Britain.

"Then he called ...and said he was going to send me a check for $17,000. I was supposed to Western Union $7,800 to his shipper in Houston, Texas," Curcio said. He deposited the check and wired the funds.

Five days later, "The bank notified me that the check was counterfeit."

"I got lucky because I tracked the order status on the Western Union site. It said the funds were not picked up yet," he said. "I quickly called them and told them to cancel it. I got my money back, minus their fee of $324. I'm still out $324, but it could have been a lot worse."

Stull said the car fraud is the most common and costs members an average of $4,500.

Another scam is phony jobs on job-search sites. The "employment" involves processing payments, and sure enough, a payment comes into the person's account. Then comes a call that there's been a mistake and instructions to refund some money. The victim finds too late that the incoming check is bad. His outgoing check is good -- but gone.

"These victims have no one to help them," Stull said. "There's no way for the police to go after someone in a foreign country."

Other bankers see similar trouble. "In the past year, there seems to be an increase in this type of activity," said Stephen Kelly, president of Rhinebeck Savings Bank.

Ulster County Consumer Fraud Bureau Director Jonathan VanVlack said the car scam is a modern variation on what's known as the old "bulletin board" scheme.

"We used to have bulletin boards in the supermarket. Now we have bulletin boards on the Internet," VanVlack said.


- A cashier's check for something you have sold over the Internet.

- A request to wire or otherwise return part of a check's proceeds to a third party.

- Purchase offers from strangers whose identity proves hard to independently verify.

- Checks for more than the agreed-upon price.

- A request for bank account details or a voided check for a one-time deal.

Nigerian Counterfeit Check Scam targets sellers of items on the Internet


05/29/04 - A Henrico County woman believed she had found the perfect buyer for a wedding dress she was selling on the Internet.

A man who said he lived in Spain e-mailed the woman, offering to pay $400 above her $250 asking price.

To the woman's delight, the man offered other financial incentives as well. All she had to do was cash and deposit into her personal account a $4,500 third-party check, which would be mailed to her.

She could keep $650 for the dress, $250 for shipping it overseas and an additional $150 as a fee for wiring him the balance of the check, more than $3,000. The deal, which sounded too good to be true, proved to be just that.

The authentic-looking check was counterfeit. The fraud, however, wasn't discovered until after the woman had deposited the fake BB&T check into her First Market Bank account and sent the con artist the balance.

The woman, who doesn't want to be identified, is now stuck with a $4,500 loss. Her bank account has been frozen until the money can be repaid.

Police say the woman is one of the area's latest victims in a scam that is being perpetrated nationally, as a growing number of people peddle personal items on the Internet. The Henrico woman advertised her dress on a local Web site.

"This is really getting to be a big crisis here," said Henrico police Sgt. Steve Quesinberry. "I'd say at least once a month we get a case like this that involves not just a couple of dollars, but several thousands of dollars."

The thieves play on the seller's excitement of making a larger than expected sale and reaping unforeseen profits.

This week, Quesinberry learned of yet another scam victim in Henrico who was swindled out of $9,100 in a similar scheme. The victim advertised on the Internet a recreational vehicle he was selling for $4,000, and a "buyer" agreed to pay the asking price with a $9,100 check.

But as with the earlier case, the victim didn't learn the check he received was fake until after he deposited into his account and wired $5,100 to the "buyer." The victim was told the excess funds were to be used to ship the vehicle from Richmond to New York, and then on to Fulham, England.

The scam, police say, is a variation of what's known as the Nigerian Advance Scheme, where people - who in many cases claim to be Nigerian businessmen or civil servants - entice victims to share in phony financial windfalls and then hook them into contributing large sums of money to "save" the business deal or venture.

The scheme "grosses hundreds of millions of dollars annually and the losses are continuing to escalate," according to the U.S. Secret Service Web site. "In all likelihood, there are victims who do not report their losses to authorities because of either fear or embarrassment."

In the recent Henrico cases, which are scaled-down versions of the scheme, swindlers agree to "advance the money to you [in the form of a phony check], you give them a refund, and somewhere in the middle you get short-changed out of good money," Quesinberry said.

The thieves typically claim to have personal-injury settlement checks from insurance companies or other businesses, or to have received payments through inheritances.

"They'll say, 'I've got this check that I've got to get rid of. Can you help me out?'" Quesinberry said. "They use every type of story you can think of."

In the Henrico woman's case, the man said he had a business partner in Richmond who owed him $4,500, and the partner would be sending him a check. The check the woman received was in an envelope with an Italian postmark.

Quesinberry said one of the biggest mistakes scam victims make is not verifying the authenticity of the check before depositing it into their account and sending the balance to the "buyer." Had the Henrico woman gone to the bank from which the check had been purportedly drawn, she would have immediately learned it was fake.

"Instead, she went to her own bank and deposited it into her account," Quesinberry said. "By the time it got all the way to BB&T, she had already sent the people the money."

The good news is that the woman may be reimbursed by her insurance company. She said her loss appears to be covered by a clause in her policy pertaining to identify-theft fraud.

Quesinberry said the woman's experience, while unfortunate, can be instructive to others.

"We're trying to tell people, just slow down a little bit and don't get so excited," he said. "Stop and think for a second. Is this really on the up and up? Maybe I'll have less customers if they do."

Chat Room Check Cashing Scam

Some con artists take their time, as one businessman discovered.

He and what he thought was a sincere female friend chatted on the Internet for a period of six months. When "she" notified him "she" was working overseas and needed him to cash a check and send to a Nigeria address, the man complied. He cashed the $3,500 cashier check and passed it on via Western Union.

Within a week, he discovered he owed the local bank $3,500 because the check was fraudulent. To send that large amount of money costs the victim another $200.

It is easy for con artists to misrepresent themselves over the Internet. They can send anyone's picture. You might think you're e-mailing a 29-year-old blonde and you're talking to a 50-year-old, 300 pound man from Nigeria. They could have several of these scams going at one time.

That Boat Has Already Sailed

01/05 - MD - A Nigerian in London swindled an Annapolis man out of more than $10,000 after convincing him to cash a counterfeit check for a yacht and wire the money overseas, city police said this week.

The fraudulent check, totalling $10,700, was for a boat that  Karl Hutchinson had just sold over the Internet to another buyer.

The emailer had been negotiating with Mr. Hutchinson over the yacht for some time before it was sold. When Mr. Hutchinson told the man it had been sold, the man said he had already sent Mr. Hutchinson a cashier's check.

The man then asked Hutchinson to cash the check and wire the money back to him, according to a police report.

After depositing the check in his account and wiring the money on Dec. 23, Hutchinson learned the check had been canceled. Officials with Bank of America have refused to waive the lost amount, according to the police report.

The same scam was perpetrated last March in Kent Island, where a woman lost $9,000 to a fraudulent cashier's check for a yacht she was trying to sell on the Internet.

Mechanics of Overpayment Scam Scenario

When a person advertises the sale of an item or a room for rent, the suspect will contact the seller by e-mail to show interest in the item.

Often the suspect will agree to the purchase without trying to negotiate a lower price. The suspect then offers to pay with a money order, cashier's cheque or regular cheque, it said.

When the seller receives the cheque, it is made out for much more than the price of the item they're selling. The scammer then e-mails the seller, says the amount is a mistake and asks if the seller will wire transfer the difference back via Western Union or Moneygram.

When the seller does this and cashes the cheque it turns out to be counterfeit, stolen or forged, and the money they have wired to the crook is long gone.

Some scammers may even follow up the initial transaction with phone calls to make themselves seem trustworthy.

Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Checks Article

Fraudulent Cashier's Checks - article

Used Car Nigerian Shipping Agent Cashier's Check Scam Victim - article

Counterfeit Cashier's Check Nigerian Scam Arrest - article

Bankers Online Article on Fake Nigerian Auction Checks - with other good links

Nigerian Check Scam Thwarted by Bank Teller - article

Online Chat Room Request to Cash Nigerian Check - article

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