As much as we like to think that fraud and scams only happen to others, it’s important for all online sellers and businesses to understand how malicious users operate. As a seller, you may get a lot more innocent emails from potential buyers looking to purchase your product, but you should always monitor suspicious activity. The last thing you want is unknowingly become a pawn in an elaborate scam by an industrious con artist. One particular type of fraud is the overpayment scam, which is most common on eCommerce platforms such as eBay. In this article, we’ll explain how overpayment scams work and how to avoid them to save yourself from becoming a victim.

What is an overpayment scam on eBay?

An overpayment scam is when a buyer of a product contacts you, the seller, to purchase the item but wants to pay over the asking price. This seems great, but it’s too good to be true. The buyer will pay with a fraudulent check days later, then only once the check bounces will you realize it was a scam.

Why does this scam work?

Sellers have been known to accept checks from buyers who want to pay over their asking price for an item. They usually do this because they’re excited about the profit they’ll make from selling an item for more than it’s worth. Unfortunately, many times these checks are fake and once they bounce, the seller has lost all of their money and the merchandise.

How can I avoid this scam?

If someone offers you more than what your asking price is for an item, don’t take them up on it! Sometimes people offer more than what something costs just because they want it so badly or they know they can get away with paying more if they ask nicely enough. If you’re going to sell something on eBay or any other online marketplace, always make sure that your asking price matches up with its actual value before accepting any payments from anyone.

If someone says they want to overpay for your product, politely decline. Even though the person is claiming they want to overpay, it’s important to follow your gut. While this person may have a reason for wanting to pay more, usually there isn’t a good reason and it’s a scam. When selling online, even though it may seem tedious, always follow the rules of payment. Do not accept payment for a product that doesn’t align with the regulations of the website or your own company. By bending the rules, you’re less likely to be able to get compensation for the scam. It’s perfectly acceptable to say no to an overpayment via check as an online seller or to anyone who asks you to bend the rules to service them. If it’s too good to be true, it is likely a scam.

Wanted: The Truth

Active Intel Investigations is here to help you with every aspect of your investigation, from conducting the investigation to preparing evidence to provide it in court.

Get started with your investigation, browse our video library for investigative resources, or schedule a no-obligation consultation with a licensed private investigator to discuss the specifics of your case.