The RCMP G Division Financial Crime Unit wants citizens to be aware of a new scam in the Northwest Territories.

A type of fraud commonly referred to as overpayment scams has recently surfaced in the NWT.

An overpayment scam is where the fraudster contacts the victim who is selling a product online. The victim receives a counterfeit cashier’s cheque, personal cheque or corporate cheque from the “purchaser” in an amount in excess of the amount owed. They are asked to deposit the cheque and wire the excess funds immediately back to the sender/purchaser or the purchaser’s agent or shipper. The deposited cashier’s cheque is subsequently returned as counterfeit and the victim suffers the financial loss.

Anyone selling goods should be suspicious of any cheque, especially if it is for more than the agreed selling price. Consider an alternative method of payment, such as an escrow service or online payment service. Talk to your bank about the safest way to receive funds from overseas.

To protect yourself against this sort of scam, never agree to a deal in which the payer wishes to issue an amount for more than the agreed price and expects you to reimburse the balance. The scammers use a variety of excuses to explain the overpayment, but any such excuse should be treated with the utmost suspicion.

In order to avoid overpayment scams, remember the following general words of advice from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre:

  • Know who you are dealing with and be able to independently confirm your buyer’s name, street address, and telephone number.
  • Never accept a cheque for more than your selling price.
  • Never agree to wire back funds to a buyer. A legitimate buyer will not pressure you to do so, and you have limited recourse if there is a problem with a wire transfer.
  • Resist pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good when the cheque clears. If you accept payment by cheque, ask for a cheque drawn on a local bank or a bank with a local branch. You can visit that bank branch to determine if the cheque is legitimate.
  • If the buyer wants to use a service you have not heard of, be sure to check it out to ensure it is reliable. Check the website, call its customer service hotline, and read its terms of agreement and privacy policy. If you do not feel comfortable with the service, do not use it.

Anyone who thinks they might have fallen victim to this or any other type of Internet fraud should notify their local RCMP Detachment, their bank and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

For more information on frauds and scams, you can visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm