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Overpayment scams

Overpayment scams work by getting you to ‘refund’ a scammer who has sent you a cheque for too much money for an item you are selling.

How this scam works

If you are selling something online or through classifieds ads, you may be targeted by a cheque overpayment scam.

The scammer will contact you, make you an offer—often quite generous—then send you a cheque as payment. The cheque will be for an amount that is greater than the agreed price.

Before the cheque has been cleared by your bank the scammer will contact you with an apology for the overpayment, offering a fake excuse. The scammer might tell you that the extra money was included to cover agent's fees or extra shipping costs. Or they may just say they simply made a mistake when writing the cheque.

The scammer will then ask you to refund the excess amount—usually through an online banking transfer, pre-loaded money card, or a wire transfer such as Western Union—before you discover that their cheque has bounced.

If you send any money, you will not get it back. If you have already sent the 'sold' item you will lose this as well. At the very least, the scammer will have wasted your time and prevented you from accepting any legitimate offers on your sale.

List of Scams

  • grass
    Overpayment scam targets turf companies

    Turf companies are being targeted by scammers who pay upfront for turf using stolen credit cards (or credit card details that have been unlawfully obtained), before changing the order and asking for the money to be ‘refunded’ to bank accounts they control.

  • Kinesiology
    Overpayment scam targets kinesiologists

    Kinesiologists and other healthcare providers should be on the lookout for a scam in which a client makes a booking by email and then requests reimbursement of an apparent overpayment.

  • car sales scams
    Scam targets vehicle sellers

    Scammers are targeting consumers selling cars online. These scams usually work by getting you to ‘refund’ a scammer who has sent you too much money for an item you are selling or to forward the additional funds to someone else to cover costs such as shipping.

  • telephone headset
    West Australian Banking Association

    Between November 2012 and January 2013 Consumer Protection received 11 scam enquiries from people who’d been contacted by callers claiming to be from the Australian Banking Association or Australian Banking Organisation. 

  • Scam targeting vehicle repairers

    Motor vehicle repairers in WA are being targeted by scammers who send an email requesting work to be carried out on a car and will go on to ask the business to pay a towing company on their behalf.

  • Three jewels; a ruby, an emerald and a sapphire
    Notice of Parcel Claim from Levine & Sadler Limited (LSL) – Mail scam

    A fake parcel claim notification, to alert you to $48 worth of jewelry awaiting pick-up, has been turning up in mailboxes in Western Australia. Australia Post is aware of this and aims to intercept the scam mail on our behalf at its sorting facility at Perth airport, however we know some cards are in circulation across WA.

  • TA logo
    American Property Bureau

    To participate, you need to follow a number of intricate steps. This still doesn’t mean you will win the prize though. In fact you actually only have a one in 125,000 chance of getting the money. So you are actually paying $33.49 to enter an overseas lottery!

  • Photo of Donna Marie
    Donna Maria (BPS)

    If you read the fine print, the real purpose of the correspondence is to sell you a “Magical Talisman for attracting wealth”, which offers a “source of inexhaustible riches” The reality is you are being sold a worthless trinket for an inflated price and the promised cheques never arrive.

  • a silver letter box with white envelopes with the "@" sign on them
    FedEx Courier Services

    Global US freight company FedEx is the front used by overseas scammers to relieve recipients of amounts up to US$300 in this Advance Fee Fraud.

  • An example of the Evermas scratchies
    EverMAS Tourism Group

    WA ScamNet is working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to try to track down the scammers behind these letters, scratchies and the associated website. A similar version has been seen over East under the name Aviats Travel.

  • A pretty stone cottage set amidst lavender with a fountain out the front
    Fernandez Caspelli

    This is a typical overpayment and purchase order scam. The scammers come up with some reason for you to charge the credit card for an amount greater than the value of the stay. They will then request the balance be sent to a third party, such as a car rental agency, or returned to the scammer.

  • Sample scam lottery ticket with an illuminated manuscript style image of the nativity
    Global Shipping Services

    On 20 and 23 April 2004 the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) arrested the principals of a New York company for money-laundering and conspiracy in connection with the illegal promotion of the El Gordo lottery.  This case started with an enquiry from Western Australia and led directly to the creation of WA ScamNet!

  • a tropical island in the middle of a light blue sea
    Holiday bookings

    This scam relies on banks taking time to clear an overseas cheque so that the provider is not alerted to the fraud until after they have “refunded” the difference.

  • A big pile of Australian $100 notes
    Jim Owen Agency

    The latest rort that overseas scammers are trying on WA small businesses is a swindle involving accommodation bookings for supposed conferences being arranged by someone claiming to be Jim Owen from the Jim Owen Agency in London.

  • gold egg
    Master Charli Chang's Dragon's Egg Miracle Maker

    It appears renting out dragons' eggs can be a good little earner; but remember, if it looks too good to be true...it probably is!

  • The Canadian flag
    Office of Property Administration

    If you want to join a Canadian Lottery syndicate, send $47.95 to Scarborough, Ontario. While you are at it, ask why literature from the

    Office of Property Administration

    creates the misleading impression that failing to respond means waiving your right to valuable property being held at their office. Don't worry, we will.

  • A big pile of Australian $100 notes
    Payment Facilitation Services, Ontario Canada

    Payment Facilitation Services may have US$279,238.00 waiting for you. That's the amount on the unsigned "cheque." Just send a $26 documentation fee to Harold Wunderman. What's so hard about subtracting the fee and sending you the rest?

  • A white plate with a fork and colourful pills on it
    Saint Alto Research Centre

    WA ScamNet invites the good professor to take his phoney potions and go for a walk in the Swiss Alps.

  • A pile of cardboard boxes flat packed with an open cardboard box on the top
    Shipping fee scam

    Businesses are being targeted in an insidious new scam aimed at fleecing them of thousands of dollars in bogus shipping fees.

  • The yellow pages open
    Yellow Pages 21st Century Sweepstake

     The letter claims you have won $80,000 in a sweepstake bonanza and includes a nice little bank cheque worth $8000. But this scam is all about smoke and mirrors – the sweepstake doesn’t exist, it is not connected to Yellow Pages as we know them and the cheque is counterfeit


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