When my son was moving back home from state college (a little early since he decided it just wasn’t for him), he still had three months remaining on his lease. Since he didn’t want to be out the money, he decided to advertise his room on a college room rental website. The remainder of his rent for three months would be $1,500.
A few days after placing the ad, he mentioned to me that someone was interested. I can’t remember the details exactly, but it kind of sounded like a strange arrangement. My son never said anything else about it, so I assumed that nothing was happening with it.
I approached my son and told him about the check and he confirmed that he had been emailing back and forth with some guy (with broken english) and the guy wanted to rent the room. He also mentioned that the check should have been written for $1,500.
The light bulb went off in my head right away. I remembered hearing about these types of scams before – where a check is written for a larger amount than it is supposed to be, and the crook wants the victim to send the extra cash back to them. I knew something was terribly wrong. I explained the whole scam to my son, and he emailed the guy (though I wanted to just leave it be). My son then began to tell me about the previous emails, where the guy said, “I trust you”, “God Bless you”, and other terms that the online scammers frequently use.
All joking aside, this was very scary. I handed the check and Fed Ex package to my husband to take to work so he could pass it along to investigations. Nothing ever came of it, as it is hard to track something with very little info. These scammers know exactly what they are doing.
The moral of the story: Never, EVER, send someone the “extra” money back if you are involved in a sale or deal like this. The scam is a popular one, and I never dreamed it would happen to us. Of course, if I had seen the emails, I would have known from the get-go that it was a scam. Unfortunately, my son wasn’t familiar with this type of scam. I am just SO glad that I intercepted the Fed Ex package!
The scam works like this: The “Buyer/renter” sends a check for an amount more than agreed upon. You deposit the check, and send the overpayment amount back to the “buyer/renter” right away. Their check bounces at your bank and you have lost that money forever. This can also happen with a wire transfer. Also beware when the scammer/buyer is really pushy and everything is URGENT.
There are all kinds of scams out there, and if your gut feeling tells you that something is wrong, it probably is. Make sure you don’t fall for this check overpayment scam!