Money/wire transfer scams are among the most prevalent work at home scams that people are falling for today. What’s worse is the fact that these types of scams are some of the easiest to prevent. You can protect yourself by following this one simple rule:
Never wire money or send money via Western Union or Money Gram to someone you do not know.
Scammers use money transfer services because you’re essentially just mailing cash quickly across the world. It’s near impossible to trace and you can forget about recovering it. Once you transfer your money away, it’s as good as gone.
But this can all be avoided if you only transfer money to people you know. It’s really that easy. If someone you don’t know or haven’t met in person is telling you to wire them money, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a scam.
Once you send the money and it gets picked up, consider it gone. It’s never coming back, especially if you wired the money overseas. Imagine dropping a $100 bill in Times Square and going back 12 hours later. You’re equally likely to get that money back.
That’s why you need to stick to wiring money to people you personally know. Don’t wire money to someone outside your friends or family. This includes…
- Potential employers who insist it’s part of your job
- Sellers on sites like craigslist
- An online love interest who asks for money or a favor
- Advertisers who put up vacation rentals
I’ve actually seen scammers take it one step further and try and impersonate a person you might know. I once received an email from my brother’s email address and it said he was in Spain on a business trip and he was mugged and desperately needed me to wire him money. Unfortunately for the scammer, my brother happened to be about 10 feet away from me when I read the email. They’ll go to any lengths to get money out of you.
The Most Common Money Wiring Scam
The most common scam I cover here at I’ve Tried That are fake check cashing jobs. With a check cashing scam, you’re asked to receive a check, deposit it into your bank account, and forward most of the amount overseas while keeping a portion of it for yourself as a “payment.” The checks you receive are either fake or stolen and it’s only a matter of time before they bounce.
Unfortunately, most banks don’t spot the fake checks and will allow you to deposit them. Federal law requires banks to immediately grant you access to the funds even though they haven’t cleared. This allows you to complete your “job” and send the portion required overseas.
The fake check you deposited WILL eventually bounce. It can take weeks, or even months but that check will bounce. Unfortunately for you, you’ve already wired the money overseas and there is no hope of recovering that money. This leaves YOU responsible for repaying the cost of the check.
Follow this one simple rule: NEVER accept a job that requires you to handle someone else’s money. If an “employer” want you to receive a check and forward the money elsewhere, it is 100% guaranteed to be a scam. Every. Single. Time.
Alternative Money Wiring Scams
Scammers in countries like Nigeria do this full-time. It’s like a job to them and they’ll go to great lengths and come up with amazing, emotional stories to get you to send them money. Here are some of the more common scams…
- Overpayment Scams – This one creeps up on Craigslist a lot. The scammer will agree to purchase an item you posted online, and will send a check, but accidentally make it out for more than you agreed upon. The scammer will then ask you to wire back the difference. The original check will bounce and you’ll be out an item, the money for the item, and the money you wired away.
- Relationship Scams – Online dating is becoming increasingly popular and naturally scammers are taking advantage of this. They’ll spend MONTHS building up a relationship with a victim and then one day leave on a trip an encounter a problem when away. He or she will desperately plead with you for help and ask you to wire money with promises to pay you back once the scammer is back home. Don’t fall for it.
- Mystery Shopper Scams – Mystery shopping scammers are following the same formula as check cashing employment scammers. They’ll send you a check for a few thousand dollars, and tell you to cash the check, keep a portion of the money for yourself as “payment,” spend a portion of the money at a store, and then send the rest of the money back along with your evaluations of the bank, the store you shopped at, and the company you used to send the money back. It’s all a scam of course. The original check will bounce and you will have to pay back the thousands of dollars you spent.
- Online Purchase Scams – Just don’t pay for an item via money transfer. Easy as pie. Stick with credit cards and reputable businesses.
- Property Rental Scams – Scammers have been putting up fake listings for apartments or vacation rentals at amazing prices. They will promise to hold it for you for a deposit or for rent and will tell you to wire money to owner. Do not do this! There is no rental and you will lose all that money.
If you’ve seen a variation on this scam, leave a comment below! You can help protect others from losing thousands of dollars. So speak up!
Please SHARE this page with anyone who thinks they’ve found a dream job that requires them to wire money. If a job wants you to wire money through Western Union or Money Gram, it is always 100% a scam. Do not accept a position where you handle a company’s money. Only wire money to people you PERSONALLY know and you’ll avoid all of these scams.
Stay safe out there.