Don’t Fall For Electronic Check Scams!
We all have to be so careful with our money and information. My cousin shared a scam that nearly happened to her on Facebook, and it was almost exactly something that happened to me a year ago. If you sell goods or services online, this is a cautionary tale for you.
I Nearly Got Scammed for Writing a Song
A year ago, I got a message from this guy on Instagram. He had liked a lot of my content, especially my performance videos. The guy asked me if I was a songwriter as well as a performer, and I told him yes. He said he liked my style, and then asked if I ever took songwriting requests. Around this time, I started seeing personalized songs as gifts becoming popular, so I figured that this guy was looking for a cheap way to do it without going through some service. I told him I'd be willing to give it a try.
The man told me that he wanted a song written for his son's birthday. He gave me information about his son, like that he was turning 5 years old, his favorite soccer team, favorite superhero, favorite color, and even the name of the family dog. He wanted the song to make it clear that mom and dad would always be there for him, and they wanted something he could hold onto all his life. Sweet, right?
So I got to work on the song, and if I do say so myself, I thought it was pretty good. When it came time to present my client the song, things changed. He no longer was as warm with his messages. It now felt that the conversation was cold, almost robotic. I asked what he thought of the song, and if there were any changes he wanted made. He disregarded that all together and asked for what email that he could send the electronic check. This was an odd question since I had just emailed him the song.
This is where it got weirder. The client said that his financial consultant cut a check larger than the amount we negotiated, and that he wouldn't be allowed to cut another check. I asked if we could Venmo, Cashapp, Paypal, etc, and he said he had none of those. I asked him if he could just mail cash and he said no. He asked if he could send the check with the larger amount to me, and asked if I could send the difference back.
Do Your Research
This seemed fishy. I Googled, "electronic check scams," and wouldn't you know, this was pretty common. Here are a couple of the things I found:
- You sell something online, but the buyer either mistakenly sends you too much money or they send you extra money to pay their "shipping agent."
- You get an online job and receive checks by mail or by providing online banking credentials to accept payments to your accounts. Common scam job offers include cashing US checks for companies overseas, working as a mystery shopper, working as an interpreter, doing advertising, etc.
Essentially, someone can send you a fake check. You cash it, and initially it goes through. Let's say I sent the extra balance back to this guy. He would receive this money, and most likely disappear. A couple days later, the check would come back fraudulent, and I would be out the money I just gave him.
Immediately, I blocked this guy on both my Google account and Instagram, and reported him. What a crazy way to go about a scam like that. Why make up a son and a whole backstory just to be a scam? Apparently a method like this is common via online market places selling goods mostly, but it could happen to people selling services, too. Moral of the story, make sure you know who you are working with online, and have your payment methods verified.
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