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I have a small landscaping business and I advertised through Facebook. Some guy reached out to me via text message, asking me to do a job for him. He asked for a quote for installing sod in his front yard and I replied with $3,175. He agreed to that price.

He then asked me to assist him with with the ex-owner of the house. I asked him, what needs to be done? He said that he owes the ex-owner $10,000 and that the ex-owner has no way of receiving it. For he only has a credit card to pay with he has to do it as a transaction he will will send me $12,100. Once the money clears I have to Zelle or PayPal the ex-owner the $10,000 and keep $2,000 as down payment for the job and $100 for a tip.

I thought that this was some kind of joke so I agreed. He asked if I could manually process his card. I said no but I can invoice you. So I did and to my surprise, he actually paid. I think that I’m being scammed. What should I do?

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    Land surveyors are getting hit with this same scam. – mkennedy Apr 12 at 22:01
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    Ex-owner has no way of receiving has no way of receiving money from him, but he can receive money from you? And also the scammer can pay you, but not the ex-owner? Does not check out! Apart from the already explained scam scheme, if it where true you would certainly make yourself guilty of money-laundering! – Daniel Apr 13 at 0:16
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    The person certainly did not pay. You may see some cool numbers in your bank account, but that's because the scammer is way better at spoofing the banking system than you. The chickens will come home to roost! Just ghost the guy and let the money sit there for 2 years. If the money is still there, well... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 13 at 6:15
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    @LeninRajRajasekaran Nothing happens. The bank takes the money back in a month or two, and the only thing that you cost the scammer is time. – Rich Apr 13 at 15:00
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    Didn't even need to read past the title to know this was a scam. – JohnFx Apr 13 at 21:41
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This is certainly some variation of the overpayment scam

There are many variants, but they usually start with a fraudulent payment of some type into your account. They payment may be a bad check, a forged money order, or transfer from some third party's hacked bank account.

Keep in mind that it can sometimes take the bank several weeks to figure out that a deposit was fraudulent!. Banks will often "clear" a deposit in just a few days, but this is done as a courtesy. It doesn't keep the bank from reversing the transaction later on if they find out it was bogus. In the end it is your responsibility to make sure the payment is legitimate, not the bank's. In the meantime, you pay their accomplice the agreed amount. Typically they will tell you to pay their accomplice via some method that can't be reversed: cash, gift cards, or money wires.

The bank will eventually figure out that the deposit was bogus and undo the deposit into your account. You will be responsible for making up whatever portion of it you've already spent, including whatever portion you paid out to their accomplice! I've said "accomplice", but this scam is often run by a single person running both sides of the transaction.

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  • The thing is. He didn’t send me the money straight to my bank he sent it through quickbooks my payment processing method which takes up to a couple weeks for the money to process idk if the bank is able to reverse the transaction before the money clears – Sergio Fuentes Apr 13 at 1:10
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    @SergioFuentes really it can take an arbitrary amount of time for the fraud in the payment to become apparent. Suppose for example the payment was made from somebody's hacked bank account (if you keep reading this exchange you'll see lots of questions from folks who have voluntarily given their account logins and passwords to scammers). Weirdly many folks don't check their bank accounts on a regular basis, so the victim in that scam may not notice the fraud for months! – Charles E. Grant Apr 13 at 1:26
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    I'd check with Quickbooks customer support first, then the bank if the transaction makes it that far. It might be worth talking to the police after that, but in many cases the scammers are overseas and local police won't be able to do much. Call their non-911 number if you do. It may be worth making a complaint with the FTC. – Charles E. Grant Apr 13 at 2:53
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    @SergioFuentes "idk if the bank is able to reverse the transaction" operative word is "idk". You are not an expert on manipulating the banking system, but the scammer is! You're playing chess with Bobby Fischer, don't bet real money on the game :) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 13 at 6:19
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica On that note I can guarantee you the scammer knows exactly what works and what doesn't, how to obfuscate the transaction to delay the bank as long as possible, and to basically make it so that the OP loses money and he gains money. I can also bet that the "money" the scammer is playing with isn't even his to begin with, so he risks nothing. – Nelson Apr 14 at 2:51
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From a comment

He didn’t send me the money straight to my bank he sent it through quickbooks my payment processing method which takes up to a couple weeks for the money to process idk if the bank is able to reverse the transaction before the money clears

Depending on the type of card (debit or credit), this might not be noticed for some time. Let's say they paid with a stolen credit card. A company or individual might not reconcile that statement more often than once a month (when the bill comes in), at which point that $12,100 will stand out. Then they file a chargeback against you. Intuit has a process to handle that, but you will almost certainly lose the dispute. In fact they warn you about this type of scam on their site

Asking for a cash refund on a credit card transaction is a strong indicator of credit card fraud.

In some cases, the cardholder may also file a dispute for the transaction after receiving cash, resulting in a possible chargeback to you as well.

To protect yourself from this type of activity, you should refund credit card transactions only as a credit back to the same card.

Contact Intuit immediately and let them know you think the transaction may be fraudulent. Don't deal with your bank, as they are a third party to the transaction in question. Intuit can likely debit the funds back and issue a refund so if there is a chargeback they handle it directly.

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    they also could be paying using a credit card fraudulently obtained using a fake identity, in which case it wouldn't depend on somebody noticing a transaction on their statement and might not be noticed for a lot longer – rdans Apr 14 at 12:42
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this is a scam, you are being duped.

call the police and report this.

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    Care to explain what things about it indicate that it's a scam, and why going to the police is better than going to the bank or to the payment processor? – Mark Apr 13 at 21:26
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    @Mark it's a well known scam. It should be taken to the police because it's a crime. – Charles Bamford Apr 13 at 23:04
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    The OP may be engaging in money laundering, or even funding organized crime or terrorism. Their lawyer should be the first call, most certainly not the police. – Jörg W Mittag Apr 14 at 12:38
  • @Jörg +1 for thoughtfulness: the OP may be a criminal, hence it's best to not call the police LOL – Dohn Joe Apr 15 at 12:04
  • @JörgWMittag Yeah. The OP agreed to launder money for someone and that someone appears to have sent him money, quite possibly stolen money. – David Schwartz Apr 15 at 23:00
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It's not a problem. Tell him you will pay the land owner in 6 weeks. I'm looking forward to hear the answer that you'll get. Probably they'll need the money faster than that because the land owner's little daughter needs a kidney transplant.

No seriously, it is of course a scam, and a classical one. This one comes in many, many variations, but it is always the same thing.

  1. You get money because <insert plausible reason>.
  2. You are asked to somehow forward it to an accomplice (Nigerian prince, distant heir, aunt, land owner)
  3. You do so.
  4. ???
  5. Profit

At (4) you notice that the original payment has meanwhile been revoked. For... whatever reason, and by whatever means. Only just, now it's too late because you already did (3). So, the other guy just magically doubled his money, and you, well... didn't make as much profit as you hoped for. The Prince won't answer your phone calls and the land owner turns out being not the land owner at all.

Thus, the only reasonable (or half-reasonable) things to do are to either not do anything at all (and inform police), or wait 6 weeks, and confirm that the money is still on your account before proceeding.

However, even after letting 6 weeks pass, it's doubtful whether you really want to do it because you cannot be sure you aren't aiding and abetting in money laundry. I mean, do you really want to risk 10 years of prison for a 100 dollar tip?

EDIT:
Another thing to consider just occurred to me, too, which might be worth yet another consideration. You stated in some comment that you received the money not personally, but via quickbook. Which means that the 12k that you have received is, by all legal means, income for which you have to pay tax!
Sure enough, with a little luck nobody will notice. But chances are that you get an audit, and these 12k that very clearly are income do not appear in your books, nor did you ever pay tax for them. That's bad, very bad, even for the vain chance that this isn't a scam.
But worse, imagine that after falling for a scam and losing 12k, you have to pay tax and a penalty... for a 12k income that you've never had.

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    So the money went through today I officially have 12,100 I’m my bank account from that transaction. And I was charged $351 for a transfer fee 😭 so either way I’m out of $351 I will be calling quickbooks tomorrow and going to my bank. The guy keeps calling saying that his accountant told him the money would clear either today or tomorrow. The guy has a Hindu accent but his name is supposed to be Scott Nelson lol he texted me asking for updates but I’ve decided to ignore him completely and going to the bank and possibly the police depending on what the bank says – Sergio Fuentes Apr 15 at 1:56
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    @SergioFuentes Tell him the funds are being held up in customs and need a $351 payment to be released. (Haha, Not really that's a different scam...) – Michael Apr 15 at 6:39
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    @SergioFuentes The money did not go through today. What happened is that the bank, as a courtesy, added the amount to your balance because 99% of transfers are eventually honoured. This one won't be. In a few weeks, when the payment is rejected by the other bank, they will remove the "money" from your account. – Oscar Bravo Apr 15 at 7:22
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    This answer is really bad advice. As you've said, this is clearly a scam; no amount of waiting for the money to clear will stop it being a scam. The absolute best case scenario is that you're right that it can't be reversed after six weeks, and you've now profited from laundering the scammer's money. More likely, the scammer knows more about the system than you, reverses it anyway in week seven, and you feel like an idiot. – IMSoP Apr 15 at 9:07
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    @SergioFuentes That sounds about right. Indian accents and super generic American sounding names are quite common among scammers. Kitboga on youtube has a lot of "scam bait" videos, and you can see the same pattern with the scammers names. – JMac Apr 15 at 12:34
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In your question you say

He said that he owes the ex-owner $10,000 and that the ex-owner has no way of receiving it.

Followed by:

I have to Zelle or PayPal the ex-owner the $10,000

Right, so they do have a way of receiving it. You've made 2 contradictory statements which confirm you're aware they can receive the money (otherwise how would you - or indeed anyone else - be sending it to them if they had no means to receive it?).

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most likely this is a scam, I suggest calling your bank and speaking with them.

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    Most likely? Do you even doubt it? Beyond any shadow of a doubt this is a scam. – Oscar Bravo Apr 15 at 7:24

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