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I'm in contact with an individual who wants to send me money. I'm wary about this so I decided to ask here.

He wants to email me a photo of a check and for me to use that to deposit money into my account. I don't plan to click any links and I'm going to mouse over every link to double check. He hasn't asked for any personal details (SSN, etc.), only for my email address. I haven't received the picture yet so that's all the information I have.

Does this sound suspicious? I have an inkling it might be a scam but decided to see it through a little farther.

UPDATE: They want me to deposit the check and send them a picture of the deposit confirmation. Off the top of my head I seem to remember having that contain some sensitive information.

  • 28
    What do they get in return for their money? – Philipp Jul 30 at 8:24
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    How "not quite a stranger" is this person? – RonJohn Jul 30 at 12:29
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    "They haven't asked for any crucial details (SSN, etc.), only for my email address" - how did you meet this fraudster^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h person? – Mawg Jul 31 at 7:10
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    "I'm in contact with this individual who wants to send me money. Does this sound suspicious to anyone?" Well, yes. – Mast Jul 31 at 13:17
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    Basic Rule Of The Internet #1273: whenever someone says they're going to send you money, it's a scam. This person is going to do everything they can to take advantage of you, your greed, and your naivete. Even if you can't see how this could possibly go wrong, don't worry - the other guy has it all figured out. Yes, yes, we know - you're the smartest guy in the room. Here's the problem - the other guy is in a different room. Delete these emails on sight. It'll save you time, trouble, effort - and above all, it'll save you money. Best of luck. – Bob Jarvis Aug 1 at 16:13
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The beauty of them sending you the picture is that it is easy for them to send essentially the same picture to several different people. The routing number is legitimate (it will match a banking institution), the account number and name probably is too, but maybe not.

The next step after you prove that the deposit was made, is that they will tell you oops I sent you too much, so please get the money from your bank, and buy them a money order and send it to an address they will give you. After you mail the money order the check image they sent you will bounce.

You will probably find that you violated the terms and conditions related to remote deposit by depositing a check that you never had possession of.

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    The real threat is threefold a) violating your bank's T&C. Let's say you wait for the check to clear before sending back the money. b) It can lead to two scenarios: 1) They claim you stole the check or 2) You discover the check they sent was stolen. c) You just committed a money laundering felony. – Mindwin Jul 31 at 17:47
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What will likely happen after you deposited the scanned check is that the check will bounce after a couple days because it's either not covered or because it is from someone else's account. The money in your account will then go back to where it came from.

But that alone doesn't get the scammer anything. Possible ways the scammer could benefit from this:

  • Scam you out of goods or services. Whatever you expected to get paid for, you don't.
  • Advanced fee fraud. Get you to pay money in order to receive and cash the check.
  • Abusing you as a money mule. After you got the money they ask you to send part of the money back to them in a way which can not be as easily reverted. The check gets reverted but your payment doesn't.
  • you forgot money laundering: OP doesn’t necessarily have to lose money with that, maybe even earns a bit, but unwittingly commits a crime. – dessert Aug 1 at 20:07
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No genuine person would need you to prove that you'd deposited the cheque. Depositing a genuine cheque would be overwhelmingly to your advantage, so any genuine person would just take you at your word if you said you'd done it. And if they wanted to be sure, why wouldn't they just look at their own account to see if the money had gone?

  • 1
    It's not so much that no genuine person would need you to prove that you've deposited a check as it is trivial for any person to verify a check drawn against their account has been deposited and thus there is no need to ask you to provide proof. There are times I've wanted to be sure a check has been deposited - namely when renting and needing to establish that my end of the transaction has completed and when purchasing a home to ensure I don't have to worry about some last minute gotcha. – iheanyi Aug 1 at 19:51
  • So what I hear you saying is, don't deposit the check, but tell them you did, and offer up some kind of fake "proof" that you deposited it. (If you want to mess with them.) – Michael Aug 2 at 5:58
  • @Michael If that’s what you think I said, I suggest you brush up on your reading comprehension skills. – David Richerby Aug 2 at 7:55
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It’s a scam. That will probably develop into an “Advance-fee fraud” once you have bitten the hook.

Advance fee fraud, is a type of fraud in which businesses or individuals are required to pay a fee before receiving promised stocks, services, money, or products, which ultimately are never given. The targets of the fraud receive a solicitation (by letter, fax, or e-mail) from someone who has a free check just for you, which you need to deposit. To ensure this will happen, the recipient of the letter is asked to pay a percentage of the total amount that purportedly will be wired or transferred. But at the end of the day, the transfer never happens.

For more information look up "Advance Fee Fraud"

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    Then that's step 2. "I accidentally sent you $2100 instead of $1100. Can you refund me the extra? Sorry about that." – user3757614 Jul 30 at 1:08
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    The check's usually (but not always) good, it just comes from someone else's account, and is stolen money. Your part is to launder the money into an untrackable form, then get stuck paying it back once the first person notices. – user3757614 Jul 30 at 1:13
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    @RonJohn If they are, you have a problem on this stack. It's a perfectly correct answer and can be trumped by better answers, but nothing in such an answer warrants a deletion. If you do that, you'll just encourage people to answer in the comment section. – pipe Jul 30 at 20:14
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    @Harper isn't "Google it" (which is exactly what Look up “Advance-fee fraud” means) even worse than a link-only answer? – RonJohn Jul 30 at 21:04
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    While this particular answer isn’t very good, the idea of deleting a complete_and_correct answer merely because it lacks unnecessary discussion seems to me a bit silly. – WGroleau Jul 30 at 22:07
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It isn't their account. It's either cunningly faked to take quite a long time to actually bounce, or it is a real person's account, e.g. Susan Danvers as I describe here.

Asking for the deposit acknowledgement serves no purpose, it is merely theater to test/increase your confidence.

The scam will come later, as they contrive a pretense to have you wire some of the money back to them.

Then it will bounce or be clawed back by Susan Danvers.

1

A picture of a check, like the one they want you to use, IS NOT A SIGNED CHECK. Do not do it!! When law enforcement comes looking for you it will be you that committed wire fraud.

1

This is a version of the "tutor scam." I'm an Arab Oil sheik or a member of the British royalty and I've sent my 15-year-old son to study in America. He needs a tutor and you come highly recommended. How much would you charge to tutor my son for 2 hours per week for 15 weeks? "Oh...say...$8000." Fine, I'll send you a check for $10,000. My son has a nanny and she doesn't have a US bank account so in order to pay her, I need you to deposit the check and then withdraw $2000 to give to the nanny. She'll be by to pick it in a couple days. "Duh...sounds good. Here you go." Then the check bounces and I'm out $2000.

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    You refer to both the scammer and the victim as "I". Attempting to defraud yourself could be a sign of low self-esteem or other problems. ;-) – David Richerby Aug 1 at 18:12
  • No, I just transitioned from a conversational narrative to stating my moral. I didn't do it smoothly, but that's what I did. Not that I don't have other problems. – B. Goddard Aug 1 at 18:34

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