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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > August 2014 > Fake Check Scams Target Individuals Selling Products Online

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Fake Check Scams Target Individuals Selling Products Online

Individuals using online marketplaces to sell products may get more than they asked for when they receive an email from a “buyer” offering more money than the posted selling price.

In a typical fake check scam, a supposed buyer sends the seller a check made out for more than the asking price. The buyer instructs the seller to deposit the check in the seller’s bank account and wire-transfer the difference. In some cases, the scammer may even tell the seller to keep a portion of the money for the extra effort. Regardless of the pitch, the result is the same! When the seller attempts to cash the check, it will not clear and funds will not be deposited into the seller’s account. If the seller has already sent money back to the “buyer” or someone else, the seller will be out his own money. The seller may also be charged bank fees for depositing a bad check.  
In one case, a Stark County resident recently received a text message from a “buyer” in response to an advertisement for a $150 wedding dress listed on a well-known online marketplace. The buyer sent the seller a check from an out-of-state beauty school for $1,850. Fortunately, the consumer contacted the Ohio Attorney General’s Office before depositing the check and wire-transferring money.  
Individuals who post items for sale through an online marketplace should watch for these signs of a scam:
  • Buyers who say they can only pay by check
  • Pressure to return any overpayment immediately
  • Requests for wire-transfers, money orders, or prepaid money cards
  • Buyers who want the products to be sent to someone else
If you suspect a scam or unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or by calling 800-282-0515.