Americans losing millions every year to this scam

By  | 

NEW YORK (CBS) The Federal Trade Commission continues to get complaints about an ongoing scam. Victims receive a check but then end up paying the criminal. Tej Srimushnam from the Federal Trade Commission says Americans lose millions every year in fake check scams, including this one known as an overpayment scam.

Here's how it works. A con artist sends a check for more than the agreed price and asks the recipient to deposit it and send the difference back. A few days later, the bank realizes the check is a fake and now the victim has a bad check and is out $500.

"Never accept an overpayment from anyone if you're selling something online," Srimushnam advised. "Be very wary of sending wires to people that you don't know. The minute the money leaves your account, there's just very little recourse for people."

Betty Hoskins decided to sell a ring online. A buyer agreed to pay $4,000, but when the check came it was for $4,500. Hoskins agreed to send the extra $500 back with the ring. But the more she looked at the check, the more she grew suspicious.

"Something in my gut told me not to trust it, so I didn't trust it," she said.

Hoskins then called a 1-800 number on the check and spoke to a customer service representative. According to Hoskins, the person on the phone said, "I really can`t tell you anything, all I can tell you is at this time, that check won't cash."

Hoskins kept getting texts from the person who sent the check. When she wrote back that it was a scam she didn't hear from them again.