EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 657 - December 01, 2003     2 of 3

Counterfeit Cashierís Check Scheme Strikes Online Sellers

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When Marty, a real estate broker in Toronto, advertised his vintage Dune Buggy on the Internet, he got an email inquiry from "Ed" in South Africa interested in purchasing the vehicle. The sender explained he represented an "automobile and boat procurement concern" that specialized in buying vehicles to customers worldwide.

Marty was a bit suspicious, because Ed offered to purchase the buggy for $7,500 U.S., even though Marty had advertised the buggy for $7,500 Cdn. But it was the second email he got that really raised red flags.

Ed told Marty he would send a cashier's check in the amount of $12,500 U.S. and requested that Marty refund the extra $5,000 via Western Union wire transfer. Marty contacted the Ontario Provincial Police's fraud division. "They informed me of the Nigerian scam," Marty said.

The scam is actually a called a Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scheme, and works like this. The fraudster sends the seller a cashier's check for thousands more than the item costs. The seller deposits the check in his bank account, waits until the check clears, then wire transfers the extra money to the buyer. As much as 2-3 weeks later, the seller learns from his bank that the check was counterfeit, and he must refund the full amount to the bank.

"Consumers should keep in mind that a bank may make money available to them almost at once if they deposit a cashierís check, but thatís no guarantee that the check is authentic," warns an advisory posted on the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Web site

In Marty's case, he listened to his instincts and remained skeptical. Other online sellers are not so lucky. If you become a victim of this scam and reside in Canada, file a report with the Reporting Economic Crime Online (RECOL) at (For more information about Canadian Agencies and Operations Dealing with Fraud, see Les Henderson's site at

Victims residing in the U.S. should file complaints online at

Copy of Scam Email
(Certain information omitted at editor's discretion.)

hi marty,
thanks for your quick responce, i have been trying to get u on phone, but i think the net work has been so bad, i believe we can still work things out as long as you adhere to the terms and conditions of my client. Thank you once again for responding to my mail, my customer is a diplomat in spain who owns a car shop in Africa, but he is in spain and wants the vehicle to be ship to africa. Thanks to you for accepting the offer to sell your Dune Buggy to my client.

I am particularly impressed by the prompt attention accorded the matter considering the need for us to conclude the deal in a timely manner. I will want to restate clearly that i am an automobile and boats procurement agent based in pretorial south africa with long years of automobiles and boats expirience and arrays of clients across the African coasts.

In other to conclude our arrangement concerning your vehicle my client wants to purchase I forwarded your mail content to him and he Agreed on the price you are selling but He said you will be getting payment inform of a cashier check in the amount of $12,500 [us funds].

This amount he explained to me that this amount will come to you in that form based on earlier order he made from a company in the states but it did not workout because there was delay in the shippment of the goods he ordered so he has proposed that if you agree with the terms of payment you should forward your info [name to be on check, phone number and address for him to forward it to the company to make out the check in your name and when the check gets to you, you will deduct the cost of your car[$7,500] and refund the balance{$5,000} to his shipper in london via Westernn union money transfer immediately for him to be able to arrange for shipping on time. So confirm this and provide your info for payment to be sent to you as soon as posible.
Best Regards,

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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