First off, let me say I didn't get taken, thank goodness, I recognized it for what it was early enough in the process that I saved myself the hassle and expense. This story though, is for those who haven't yet encountered it so you know what to look for. 

The scam is called Overpayment, it's pretty simple, someone hired you to do a job, you do the job and they "accidentally" overpay you. No problem, if you would be so kind as to return the overpayment to this online account and keep what you were contracted for, everything will be just fine. No, it won't.

Bank Teller Trusts You
Bank Teller Trusts You
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The scammer is hoping you have a great relationship with the teller at your bank, you deposit the check and the bank trusts you that it's good. After all, they have known you for years. The bank's money is now deposited in your account, and you, being the wonderful, trusting human being you are, immediately send the overpayment back to the poor forgetful sap who sent it to you in the first place. Now, you have helped them out and you feel good about... you.

Scammers Suck
Scammers Suck
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The scam is, the check you deposited is fraudulent, but by the time your bank finds out you already pulled the "overpayment" out of your account and sent it back to the scammer through an online account that is now gone. There is no getting it back either. Now the scammer has your real money, and you're left holding a bad check and a bank account that is now minus what you sent the "overpay-er/scammer/A-hole".

In my case, it would have been $1000 out of my pocket if their little scam had worked.

You Realize What Happened
You Realize What Happened
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Moment of Truth:

If you get scammed you feel like a complete moron, heck I felt like that and I didn't lose any money. But I did lose time and some effort on my part, and that's far too precious these days to give up to jack-ass scammers.

Signs to watch out for:

  1. Client uses a generic email account. That's not always bad, I use Gmail, but it can be your first clue.
  2. Client won't reveal a company name, address, or phone number. "Just send your bill to my name at this email address."
  3. Something just doesn't seem right. This is not the way it's usually done.
  4. Promises of future work if you will "help them out with this little embarrassing situation now.
  5. Urgency, "we have to take care of this now or I will use someone else."

Learn to trust your instincts, if something doesn't feel right about the whole thing, don't do it. Ask for help, and search for the scenario on Google, I found this "Overpayment Scam" on there in multiple forms. I also called the company he claimed to be representing, they've never heard of him. He was also banned from the website where he found me. A little digging will reveal a lot.

Where Scammers Should Be
Where Scammers Should Be
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I guess I got lucky this time, maybe not so lucky next time. There are a lot of bad people out there who want to take your stuff, let's watch out for each other.

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