Monday, November 19, 2012

New Variation of Overpayment Scam Takes Aim at Small Business

A North Carolina small business was targeted this week by a con artist using a new twist on overpayment scams.

A hair salon in Raleigh got an email from someone seeking to hire it for a big job right before Thanksgiving. The scammer provided a credit card number to pay for the services in advance, and asked the small business for a “favor”: add an extra $1,000 to the credit card tab, and then wire that money to a transportation company that would deliver the clients to the salon. Skeptical employees smelled a rat and reported the scam to the Attorney General’s Office. Now we’re looking into the scam and warning other North Carolina businesses not to fall for a similar ploy.

Overpayment scams aren’t new. They typically involve a large check sent to an individual who has posted something for sale online. The check is made out for more than the asking price, and the seller is asked to wire back the extra money. In other variations, you receive a check for allegedly winning a prize or a contest and you’re asked to wire some of the funds back to cover taxes or fees. After you send back the money, the bank determines that the check is counterfeit. The money you had in-hand vanishes, and the “extra” money that you returned ends up coming out of your own funds.

To avoid any kind of overpayment scam, never agree to accept extra payment and then return or forward the funds.

If you spot a scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

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