May 19, 2009, 6:47 p.m. by SMARTBRIDE
Tips to Keep You Fraud Free Online
Hello Smart Brides!
Lately classifieds sites have seen an increase in fraud attempts using fake cashier's cheques. We want to help educate you so that you can protect yourself online, especially when selling your wedding items on SmartBrideBoutique.ca.
Above we've pasted a fake cheque - looks pretty legit, right? So let's get started!
First of all, you'll notice at the bottom of every e-mail you receive from potential buyers, there are a number of tips and things to watch out for with respect to scams. They are in big red letters - but in case you missed them, here they are again:
Follow these simple rules to AVOID SCAMS and FRAUD. (Read our full Fraud FAQ )
*DEAL LOCALLY. Wedding purchases are important and few people will purchase without seeing or trying on the item.
*NEVER WIRE FUNDS via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service.
*FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON.
*NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR FINANCIAL INFORMATION.
*AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES
Now let's get into the nitty gritty of it. Here are a list of frequently asked questions about classifieds fraud. For full details, read our Fraud FAQS.
Q. How do I know if a potential buyer is legitimate?
Firstly, do not respond to messages or inquiries:
- written in poor English
- asking questions that are already clearly stated in your item description like price and size
- from buyers who ask you to ship your item
- that suggest the buyer will pay by cashier's cheque, wire transfer, western union or mailing a personal cheque
- that offer you more than the value of your item and ask you to send the extra money back by wire transfer
These are all signs of potential scams and fraud. You will avoid almost every fraud attempt if you follow these simple rules:
- DEAL LOCALLY with women you can meet in person. If a buyer or seller is not willing to meet, chances are it's a scam. Wedding purchases are important and few people will purchase without seeing the item if not trying it on.
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service
- FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON. You should note that banks will cash them, and you may be held responsible after the fact.
- NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES
Q. I've been offered a cashier's cheque and the buyer wants me to ship the item, is this a scam?
This is one of the most common scams associated with classifieds sites. A potential buyer will offer a very genuine-looking cashier's cheque. Make no mistake, THIS CHEQUE IS FAKE. Not every initial e-mail with this scam will look the same, but here are some specifics to watch for:
- You may receive an email offering to buy your item sight unseen with a cashier's cheque.
- The value of the cashier's check often far exceeds your item and the scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
- Scammer will likely ask you to involve a 3rd party like a shipping agent
- Scammer will demand for your name, address, etc for printing on the fake cheque
Q. How does the counterfeit cashier's cheque scam work?
Here's how it works according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center:
The counterfeit cashier's check scheme targets individuals that use Internet classified advertisements to sell merchandise. Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier's check for the amount owed to the buyer.
The amount of the cashier's check will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. In most instances, the money is sent to locations in West Africa (Nigeria).
Because a cashier's check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. Falsely believing the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.
In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money. Shortly thereafter, the victim's bank notifies him that the check was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.
Q. What other kinds of scams should be aware of?
For full descriptions of other well known internet scams, please visit:
Here are a few brief descriptions of scams to watch out for:
- Someone may claim that SmartBride Boutique will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that SmartBride Boutique will handle or provide protection for a payment. This is certainly a scam, SmartBride Boutique DOES NOT ASSIST OR PROVIDE ANY PAYMENT TRANSACTIONS. Please notify us immediately if you receive a message or any official looking e-mail apparently from SmartBride stating this.
- A buyer requests you to accept a cashier's cheque, especially if it is more than the specified sale price. The cheque is FAKE! We suggest never to accept a cashier's cheque, especially from a distant buyer.
- A seller requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram. Note there is no such thing as a confirmation code required to withdraw the money. Once you wire it, it is gone. These deals are often too good to be true. Ie. the price is way below what it should be.
- A seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he/she will ship goods.
Q. What do I do if I receive an e-mail from a scammer? Who do I report this to?
First, if you have divulged any banking, credit card or information related to your paypal account, contact your bank, credit card company or paypal directly without delay. Secondly, report the crime using the following services:
- Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov)
- US Federal Trade Commission toll free hotline (if either party is a US citizen): 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- Non-emergency number for your local police department.
Lastly, if you suspect that an item posted for sale, or a potential buyer on SmartBride Boutique may be part of a scam, please contact us with the details at "email@example.com". Please include all correspondence you have had with the party plus the URL of the item in question.
Q. What do I do if I've given personal information to a scammer?
If you have divulged any banking, credit card or information related to your paypal account, contact your bank, credit card company or paypal directly without delay.
Q. Do you have a sample e-mail from a scammer I can compare with one I received?
Yes, here are three e-mails received by SmartBride users. You'll note the English in the second e-mail is much worse than in the first. Watch for lots of questions which are already stated in your post.
I came across your item and I'll like to know the following questions regarding the item. Q#1.. How long have you owned it? Q#2. a) Have you owned it from new? b) If not how many previous owner? Q#3. Why are you selling it? Q#4. In your opinion, what sort of condition is it? Q#5. Any available photo? Q#6. How much are you asking for it? Q#7. Do you accept a ( Cashier Check / postal Money Order with check) as a mode of payment. Q#8. Kindly get back to me with ur FULL NAME,FULL Address also your phone number so that i can call you soon as the payment sent. Thanks
Thank you for responding.I am very pleased with your respond the item and i do wish to seal up the deal as soon as possible. The price is acceptable and the conditions are favorable. The item will be picked up from your location and i will send the shipment details and informations to you in my subsequent correspondence .But before we can proceed, I want you to get back to me with your contact informations which includes your name, address and phone number so that payment can be sent to you. Get back to me with the requested informations and have a splendid day.
I am the fiance to the bride who contacted you earlier about the your wedding dress and now she currently on a trip to the family house for the wedding preparation cause that is where the wedding is going to take place,i will be handling this transaction now......
My mode of payment will then be via Bank Certified Check cause i will not be able to come over to hand you cash but once you have your cash at hand you will be shipping the dress to the bride,an $100 will be included to your asking price for the shipment fund via Express Mail Service(EMS or USPS). ..So kindly reply me with your full name and address with a valid phone number to send the check,if you are ok with my mode of payment you can have the posting off Cl....
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