Woman doesn’t fall for cashier’s check scam

OKEECHOBEE — An Okeechobee woman wisely had a bank check a cashier’s check before going through with a Craigslist transaction, saving herself money.

According to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) report, on Nov. 23, a local woman filed a complaint about an attempted scam.

She advised Deputy Mark Margerum that she listed her 13-ft. Riviera Skiff on Craigslist.com, and was contacted by “Adam,” a potential buyer. The two agreed on a price of $1,800 for the boat. However, Adam sent a cashier’s check for a higher amount and asked her to use her account from Bank of America to pay to have the boat shipped to him.

On. Nov. 18, she received a cashier’s check which appeared to be drawn on PNC Bank National Association Indian in the amount of $3,900. The check was sent through UPS and postmarked Topeka, Kan. By phone Adam told her it would take 24 hours for the check to clear, but that he needed her to send him $1,000 immediately to cover shipping costs.

The woman took the check to the local PNC Bank and was told it was a fake.

She never sent Adam any money.

The deputy stated he advised her to refuse any further calls from Adam and to contact the OCSO if she had any further problems with him. Both a copy of the fraudulent check and the original envelop it arrived in were placed into evidence.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, when a check is made out for more than the agreed-upon price, that is a red flag that it is probably a scam.

Tips for avoiding cashier’s check fraud include:

• Try to know the people with whom you do business. When possible, verify information about the buyer from an independent third party such as a telephone directory. Be cautious about accepting checks — even a cashier’s check — from people that you do not know, especially since it may be difficult to pursue a remedy if the transaction goes wrong.

• When you use the Internet to sell goods or services, consider other options such as escrow services or online payment systems rather than payment by a cashier’s check.

• If you do accept a cashier’s check for payment, never accept a check for more than your selling price if you are expected to pay the excess to someone else. Ask yourself why the buyer would be willing to trust you, who may be a perfect stranger, with funds that properly belong to a third party.

• A cashier’s check is less risky than other types of checks only if the item is genuine. If you can, ask for a cashier’s check drawn on a bank with a branch in your area.

• If you want to find out whether a check is genuine, call or visit the bank on which the check is written. That bank will be in a better position to tell you whether the check is one they issued and is genuine.

• Know the difference between funds being available for withdrawal from your account and a check having finally cleared. Your bank may be required by law to make funds available to you even if the check has not yet cleared. However, it could take several weeks to know if the check will clear or not.

• Be wary of taking action before you can be sure that the payment you received is good.

• Be suspicious if someone insists that you send funds by wire transfer or otherwise pressures you to act quickly before you know the payment you received is good.

• If you receive a letter offering you a large sum of money for little effort other than sending a “processing” fee, remember: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

• Reject any offer that asks you to pay for a “prize” or “gift.”

• Save your documents—you may need this paperwork if something goes wrong.

Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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