OVERPAYMENT SCAMS TARGET BUSINESSES
Local businesses invest time
then discover business deal was a scam.
July 09, 2009
Anchorage, Alaska - Businesses
offered more money than they are asking for a product or service
should be weary. Alaska, Oregon and Washington businesses are
reporting overpayment scams.
"Businesses who think they are simply doing a favor for
a good customer can get their money swiped in this scam."
said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of Better Business Bureau serving
Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington.
Identifying Overpayment Scams
Businesses are contacted, usually
though an e-mail, by a buyer often from another country. Only
after setting up the details of their purchase does the scam
The buyer asks the business to help make their purchase easier.
The buyer says they'll overpay for the product or service and
asks the business to forward the extra money to another business
or person to handle shipping or another service. In recent cases,
it appears scam artists used stolen credit card numbers. However,
fake or stolen checks are also used.
Businesses discover, usually after they've transferred funds
to the scam artist, that the money never comes or the money arrives
but is stolen from another person or business' account. This
can put a freeze on the business' account and requires the business
to pay back the money to the rightful owner, including the funds
sent to the scam artist.
An Alaska bed and breakfast recently was asked to forward an
overpayment of $10,000 to a "car hiring agent," so
the buyer wouldn't have to share credit card information with
a third party.
Scam artists do their best to sound legitimate. They may refer
to themselves as a doctor or another distinguished title. Some
also sound very interested in the product or service by asking
questions and giving specific details. Those who don't fall for
the scam, still lose valuable time to what they thought would
be a good business deal.
Overpayment schemes also target consumers:
The Better Business Bureau
warned in April 2009 that consumers were receiving fake or stolen
checks in the mail. Depositing these checks usually resulted
in the consumer's money being swiped - not funded.
In this "overpayment scheme",
the check arrived in the mail with a letter stating why the money
was received. The letter went on to say that a portion of the
money needs to be returned to the sender or sent to another source
via money wire, check or cash to pay for taxes, shipping, fees,
People who tried to deposit
the scam check get stopped by a bank teller. However, with better
printing and computer technologies, consumers are often able
to deposit these scam checks. They normally find out after they've
transferred funds to the scam artist that the money never comes
or the money arrives but is stolen from another person or business'
account. This can put a freeze on the consumer's account and
requires the consumer to pay back the money to the rightful owner,
including the funds sent to the scam artist.
File complaints regarding suspicious
e-mails at www.ic3.gov <http://www.ic3.gov/>
. Report scams to the Alaska Attorney General, 269-5200. Get
a BBB Reliability Report on businesses and organizations before
working with them at www.bbb.org
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Better Business Bureau
Note: The Better Business Bureau
is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau
Accredited Businesses. The BBB's mission is to be the leader
in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the
services and products provided by your BBB, call 907-562-0704
in Alaska, or visit the BBB Web site at www.bbb.org
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