Nigerian Check Scams

Counterfeit checks often used by people operating Nigerian scams and if you try to cash one, you’ll be responsible for paying the money back to the bank.

The need for greed will always prevail and the most honest of people can fall victim to the following new scam. The offers are posted on online services and bulletin boards like eBay and arrive as a sale offer or business opportunity via email or Instant Messaging or replying to your posting.

We’ve already discussed how Nigerian scams artists use counterfeit money orders as a payment method to trick people into sending money, valuable property. Counterfeit checks are often substituted in these schemes. This article examines how these scams often work.

Nigerian Counterfeit check Scams

How Nigerian Check Scams Work

Classic Nigerian scams often originate from another country. It may not be Nigeria. That’s just where the scam gets its name. You get a letter or email from someone claiming he or she has a business selling some product over the Internet, a significant amount of money they need help spiriting out of their country or a charitable organization that needs to accept donations. Sometimes they just offer to buy something you’re selling or rent a property you’ve advertised on the internet. You’re told that you’ll be sent a check to pay for the items you’re selling or you’ll be asked to deposit money in your account then wire them their share while you keep the rest. One version of this scam involves buyers “accidently overpaying” for an item you’re selling. The details aren’t important. The key is that the deal sounds very lucrative for you, so enticing that you won’t spend too much time thinking about it.

Once you’ve cashed the checks and forwarded money back to the person that sent you the check, you’ll notified that the checks were forged, stolen, or are counterfeit. It may take a week. It could take several months. If the check’s counterfeit, count on that fact being discovered. The bank will be missing some money and trust me, they’ll figure out why and guess who they’ll turn to first to recover the funds? That’s right, they’ll come after you.

You’ll be responsible for every penny. Go ahead and tell them the story about the mysterious overseas buyer. They’ve heard many stories like this before. It won’t help because no one will ever hear from or see this person again. You’re left holding the bag, and will have to pay the bank for the amount of the check. This is not to mention the possibility of law suits and/or criminal charges you may face. If you thought that once a check cleared it was a “done deal”, you are wrong. The bank has every right to take their money back from you if the check is later determined to be counterfeit.

How to detect this check scam

Like others in this category you need to know who you are doing business with and as always, if it sounds to good to be true it usually is. Your best bet is to not send any money or merchandise to someone until a check has cleared the bank. Don’t give in to threats or any other form of coercion because if you hold onto your money or goods and you’ve been paid with a bad check you are so far out nothing in this deal. If you give in and mail merchandise or money abroad and then it comes to your attention that the check didn’t clear you are, as we said earlier, holding the bag and will have to cover the check.

More reading on Nigerian 419 Scams

Nigerian Email Scams

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Crime (Nigerian Scam)

Nigerian Fraud Email Gallery

US Secret Service 4-1-9 Scheme Advisory