Often I will remind you about particular types of scams I have mentioned before because they continue to victimize many people. Earlier this week a Pennsylvania man became a victim of a common Craigslist scam when he put an ad on Craigslist to sell a piece of furniture for $350. He was contacted by someone who sent him a check for $1,350 and asked the seller to merely deposit the check, deduct the $350 and send the rest back to the buyer by way of a money order. The check looked legitimate so the seller deposited it and sent the difference back to the buyer. Unfortunately, the check was a forgery so the seller lost the money he sent to the scam artist posing as a buyer. Often in these circumstances the check will appear to be a bank check or a certified check, but it is just a forgery. Other times, the sellers will think they are being prudent by waiting a few days for the check to clear only to learn later that it can take weeks for a check to fully clear and the provisional credit that they are given by the bank after a few days does not mean that the check was not a forgery because once it is recognized as a forgery, the provisional credit is taken away by the bank and the victim is left with a reduced bank account.
Whenever you are paid for something that you are selling by a check for more than the amount that is due and that payment comes with a request for you to send the difference back to the buyer, you should consider this a sign that this is a scam. Also, anytime you are paid by a check you should wait for the check to fully clear before turning over the sold goods. Even if the check appears to be a bank check or a certified check, it may well be a forgery so you should contact your bank to make sure that the check has fully cleared before you consider the payment to have been made. Regardless of the excuse that may be given to you as to the reason for payment by way of a check for more than what is owed, you should be suspicious. Finally, always be wary when someone requires you to send payment by Western Union or wired from your bank because once those payments have been made, it is impossible to get the money back.