Fraud Alert: Cheque Overpayment Scam

10 Feb 2019 4:50 PM | Anonymous

Dear ATINS Members and Friends,

We would like to advise you of a common scam that appears to be making the rounds again: The Cheque Overpayment Scam. The fraudsters behind this scam normally approach translators but any business can be affected.

What the scam typically “looks” like:

A “client” approaches you for a quote. You agree on a price and turnaround time. The “client” says they can only pay by cheque (giving some excuse why). When you receive the cheque, you see that it is for more money than what was agreed to. The “client” has some excuse for the overpayment and then asks for you to send the difference back. The unsuspecting translator returns the difference back to the “client” or the “client’s colleague.” Eventually, the bank determines that the cheque was fraudulent. You are now responsible for paying back the reversed funds and any related fees to your bank, and that “client” has disappeared with your legitimate money in their pocket.

The names, emails, stories and excuses the fraudsters use for the Cheque Overpayment Scam are always different and ever-evolving. The stories may even seem elaborate and convincing. But while the stories change, the motive of the fraudster does not: they just want your money.

How to protect yourself:

  • Do not accept any overpayments. If a client has sent you too much money, refuse to accept it. Do not cash the cheque under any circumstances. Return it to the sender and report the incident to the authorities.

  • Do not accept payment by cheque, especially from unknown or first-time clients. There are more reliable methods of payment including Interac e-transfer, PayPal that can be used.

  • Do not begin any work until you have received payment and it has officially cleared your account. Note: the bank can come back many months later and tell you a cheque was actually fraudulent.

  • Do not feel pressured to “act now”. Fraudsters will use pressure tactics and quick turnaround times against you.

What to do if you have received an email you suspect is an overpayment scam:

  • Don’t respond to the email.

  • Report the email to the Canadian Government’s Spam Reporting Centre and/or the Anti-Fraud Centre. Spam isn’t just “annoying, unwanted” emails. It is also defined as “false or misleading electronic representations.”

If you believe you have already fallen victim to a scam, please report this to the following authorities:

  • Your local police’s non-emergency line.

  • The Provincial Police’s non-emergency line.

  • The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Finally, if you’re aware of any other fraudulent schemes where translators and/or interpreters are targeted, please let us know.