There are many, many variations of the "money transfer" scam.

Typically the scams work as follows: You receive a phone call or email from someone that says: (1) you won a prize but you have to pay taxes on it; (2) a friend is in trouble and needs your help; (3) you can get a loan, with bad credit, but you have to pay a fee first; (4) you are selling something online, and they send you a cashier’s check for too much money, and ask you to wire them the difference. Whatever the exact sales pitch, the caller’s only goal is to get your money, but to give you something in return.

We had a client a few years ago that had to file chapter 7 bankruptcy because of this scam. She met a man that she became friends with. She grew to trust him. He told her that he was opening a business, and he gave her a large check to deposit in her bank account, to “facilitate the transaction.”

She deposited the check into her checking account, and a day or so later, it showed that she had been given credit for it, so she thought everything was OK. She then followed her friend’s instructions and wired the money to a Japanese company, to fund the new business. She was to receive a small fee for her trouble.

Only there was no new business. And her “friend” disappeared. And the check bounced, and it was charged back to her bank account. All $170,000 of it.

So the bank first took all of her money out of her bank account, then sued her for the rest of the $170,000. By depositing the check into her account, she be-came liable for it since it was no good. The bank is required to give “provisional” credit but can charge you back if the check later proves to be bogus.

So don’t be a fool. If some kind of deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you win the lottery, they don’t ask you to wire them $900. No, the Nigerian prince doesn’t need your bank account to deposit his $100 Million. And no, you have not won the Jamaican sweepstakes if you never entered it.

If someone wants to use your bank account, use your credit, replace their check with yours, says that you won the lottery, a prize, a sweepstakes, or something else suspicious, it is likely a fraud. Just say no!

Have you ever been the victim of one of these scams, or know of someone that did? How did it work, and what happened? Please post any comments below.

J Thomas Black
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Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization
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