The European Cheque Scam or Middle Man Scheme
Have you received a letter or e-mail, from a person or corporation, offering you the opportunity to quickly earn large sums of money?
Your solicitation may claim to originate from a European company, or some other offshore cartel. All you have to do is simply deposit their business cheque through your bank account, then as the 'middle man' in the transaction. As a result, you may keep a percentage of the proceeds for yourself and send the remainder back to the company. You think to yourself - "What could possibly go wrong?".
If this is a familiar story, you may have been targeted by the European Cheque Scam. The European Cheque Scam is relatively new to the fraud scene, and appears to be an offspring of the well-known Nigerian Letter Scam.
Shortly after replying to the initial offer, you will receive a business cheque, payable to you. The cheque will be accompanied by a letter urging you to negotiate it as quickly as possible, and kindly return their share of the proceeds.
In reality, the 'cheque' you have received is actually a forged document and absolutely worthless. If it is not immediately detected by your bank, it soon will be and your account will be charged back the full amount. Any money you may have sent to your benefactor, you will never see again. You get "hit" twice!
Overpayment Cheque Fraud
You place an advertisement (newspaper, internet or otherwise) to sell an item.
An interested perspective buyer contacts you and a price is negotiated OR they simply agree to buy the item for the full price you have already asked for.
A cheque arrives and it is written out for a substantially higher amount than the agreed price. Being the honest person that you are - You contact the buyer and let them know. They advise you that there was some sort of accounting error or mistake.
They ask you to just go ahead and cash the cheque. They ask that you take your correct price and send them the remaining funds. Sometimes they even tell you to accept some extra money "for your trouble". They trust you to do this because you were so honest about telling them about the overpayment.
You take the cheque to the bank, deposit it, and withdraw the overpayment amount. You send off the cash and it is agreed that someone will drop by later to pick up your item.
You later discover that the cheque is actually a forged document and absolutely worthless. The bank holds you accountable and you've sent your money to the fraudster possibly along with your sale item.