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Overpayment Scam Alert!

An Old Scam Making a Comeback

The Overpayment Scam has been around for a long time and the scammers are getting bolder and coming up with new ploys.

Recently, we were targeted by one of these scammers and figured it would be good to share our experience with you.

Everything Started Out Well

As you can see the initial contact looks absolutely legitimate.  We tend to get a little nervous when someone is using a Gmail address but that is pretty common these days when they don’t have a custom domain for their business.

Even so, we will usually do some searches on the person’s name and email address to see if anything pops up that looks fishy.

In this case, neither Kelle Sheehan nor came up with anything that sent up red flags.  This could be a legitimate client, woots!

contact form submission
response email with details about what the persons design needs are

The Pitch

The next message we received from this scammer again looks like a very promising customer with a clear idea of what they wanted.

One of the other things that were not triggering is the text is very clear with no misspellings.  A lot of scams are really obvious because they have been put through a translator and some things just don’t translate well into other languages.  I could just imagine how some things translate from English and leave the other person wondering.

The One Thing That Stuck Out

There is one thing in this response that sets off a small alert, can you see it?  Take a moment to really look it over, we’ll wait…

Did you find it?  Well if you did or didn’t the thing that sticks out is that they have a “Private Project Consultant” that has things that will be needed for the site.

We have worked with customers that have Graphic Designers, Photographers, and Others that they prefer to use but calling them by the title they did is just different enough to make us ask if this really is legitimate.

Okay, let’s go into this with an open mind but cautiously. 

message further illustrating the scam

A Little Twist

In the past, we have seen these scams done with wire transfers or checks but never credit cards.  That they are asking to pay with a credit card makes this feel a little more like it could be legitimate, but then they start to unravel their plan.

See the PS at the bottom?  They are going to need help regarding their consultant.  Now the alarms are really going off but we figured it would be good to get absolute confirmation since we intended to report the incident to the authorities as well as Google.

The Overpayment Scam is Revealed

message showing the details of the overpayment scam

And here it is, the Overpayment Scam in all its glory.  If you have never seen one of these here is how this works.

The person is asking me to process a payment for a rather large amount out of which we get to keep part of the money for our services plus a little tip, how nice of them, and they would like us to send the remainder to their consultant via a bank transfer as their consultant does not accept credit card payments.

This is where we put a stop to the scam and reported the scam to both Google and the FBI, but here is where this would have wound up had we not determined that it was a scam:

They would have paid with one or more credit cards, or a washed and remade check.  Given the amounts, these could take a little time to clear the bank but in the case of the check, the funds could be made available before it completely cleared.  Cards are a different story so we are pretty sure that they would have attempted to change the payment arrangement to something other than a card.
Had we transferred the money to their “Consultant” their payment would eventually get bounced or reversed due to fraud detection in the bank system and we would be out $3000.  A variation of this would have the initial payment go through in an attempt to make their scam look more legitimate and then later ask for larger deposits and transfers which would ultimately fail and leave us holding the debt.

The Take Away

There are so many of these scams that pop up and especially at this time of year when money can be a little tight it can be very tempting to take the bait and hope things work out.  Unfortunately, they never do and in most cases, their victims wind up incurring debt beyond their means which could spell the end of their business.

We hope that by exposing these scams in articles like this we can increase awareness and make these about as useless as the Foreign Prince that needs to move a bunch of money or the mystery inheritance.

These people are predators and every so often they will come up with new angles to spin these old scams.  With a little education and justified paranoia, we hope to prevent ourselves and our customers from ever becoming a victim of scammers.

Funny enough after not hearing from them for a day we got an email from them using a different Gmail address.  For some reason, they could not access their other Gmail account and wanted to try and continue their scam using a new one.  Guess we will be making another report to Google.

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