Just One of Many Internet Scams

A good friend of mine called me recently to ask what I knew about scams from online sales. He had placed an ad on CraigsList for something he was trying to sell and had asked for $150 for the item. He had received a call from a woman and she offered to send him a check for the item.

Shortly thereafter, he received a $2,400 check from a major chemical company and was confused about why the check was so much more than the amount he listed and why it was coming from a chemical company.

If you ever run into this, rip up the check. This is advanced fee fraud, or a shipping scam. I explained to him that he would undoubtedly be receiving an email requesting that the difference be paid to shipper via a wire transfer.

But why send a check for $2,400, and why from a chemical company? It was probably the only seemingly legitimate check the scammer on hand from a “business.” If you fall for this scam, you end up sending $2,250 back to the scammer and you never get paid on the $2,400 check.

The day after we spoke, he received this email:

“Hello XXXX,

The check has been delivered, thanks for your honesty towards this transaction so far. Well, the overpayment is meant to cover the cost of shipment for the item alongside my other properties including tax and insurance plus the movers and agents fees.

Please deposit the cheque today so that it clears tomorrow after the check has cleared, All you have to do is go the bank and have the rest of the money withdrawn in cash and have it sent to the movers via wire transfer.

Do let me know your schedule for the week regarding pickup as i have some other properties to be moved alongside the item. Please do act accordingly as agreed after deducting your money for the item, make the rest fund available to the movers via money gram Money Transfer at any of their outlet around you or check on moneygram.com and check for their outlets around and get back to me with the transfer details below (as it appears on the receipt) so i can contact the movers for the pick-up at your location ….Deduct the money gram money transfer charges from my fund also $50 for yourself (meant for any hassle or run around).

1) Sender’s name and address

2) Reference number {which is the 8 digits number on the Money Gram receipt}

3) Actual amount sent after the fee had been deducted

Hope i can trust you with the overpayments? Your Honesty and transparency will be appreciated”


The vast differences in the sale amount of the item versus the amount of the check are a huge red flag. Another thing to pay attention to is the email itself. It’s full of bad grammar and has some inconsistencies in wording that should be a warning sign to you.

This scam works on a small percentage of people who are naïve and by their nature are overly trusting of others. Help put a stop to this kind of fraud by learning about these scams and making an effort to educate others on the risks and pitfalls of phone, email, snail mail and web based scams.


Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen.
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