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I was approached on Instagram by a painter who wants to use one of my posts as a reference for a painting for a client of his. He said my cut would be $500 and he needs my full name, and bank name for the check, along with my email. I asked if he could just Venmo or cash app me and he said no because his client has had problems with those apps in the past. So I’m a little sketched out. Not sure if someone can hack you knowing those 3 things.

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    Pretty much every time someone asks the question "Is this a scam?" in PF&M, the answer is, "YES!"
    – Rocky
    Aug 23, 2022 at 16:22
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    Also note the reason they give doesn't really make sense. You're not dealing with the client, so whether they can venmo is irrelevant. It's the "painter" that should be paying you your cut.
    – towr
    Aug 25, 2022 at 5:15
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    Of course it's a scam (the thing makes no sense). But you want to play it safe? Tell them you'll do it if they send you a bank check. Note though you might still be falling for a money laundering scam then. Aug 25, 2022 at 12:05
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    @user1532080 No, do not accept from anybody any money that you are to forward to someone else. Even if you don't lose any money yourself through such a scheme, you open yourself to criminal prosecution if the transfer is part of a criminal act. There's a reason that the scammer doesn't just make the transfer from his own account.
    – cjs
    Aug 25, 2022 at 14:31
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    "They are hoping you've never written a check in your life." The percentage of people that fit that description grows every day. Aug 25, 2022 at 18:46

3 Answers 3

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This is a common scam on Instagram right now. You can find other examples on reddit of this; one example: https://www.reddit.com/r/Scams/comments/tbbpq6/artist_scam/

It's a fake payment scam. The words "your cut" (plus cheque payment) really give away their plan. They will send you a cheque for "your cut", plus supplies and payment to the artist, or something similar that you are supposed to forward on to someone else.

Then the cheque bounces awhile later, and all the money you forwarded will be gone (they will use an irreversible method), and you will owe the bank back for everything you forwarded.

The money from the cheque will show up in your account at first, and they will try to say that means the money is clear. The money is not yours. The cheque is stolen/forged and the transaction will eventually be reversed when the bank notices.

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    People need to learn how the bank's numbers work. That number is not necessarily 100% "yours". I had someone's mortgage (over 300k) arrive in my account for about 12 hours and then it went away silently, like it never existed before. If I spent that money, you bet the bank will come after me.
    – Nelson
    Aug 24, 2022 at 2:12
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    @Nelson How is my number not "mine"? Surely IBAN is unique?
    – gerrit
    Aug 24, 2022 at 7:28
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    Not your bank account number. Your $ amount in your bank. Just because it is there doesn't mean the money is yours. Normally it is, if you made the deposit, but a lot of deposits can be reversed (bounced cheques for example). The money arrives, it shows up "instantly", but it isn't validated. Some time later, the source account is actually empty, so the deposit gets reversed, and you lose the quick deposit for a period of time. Do this enough and you will have to wait 5 days for the cheques to clear before your account shows the deposit.
    – Nelson
    Aug 24, 2022 at 7:33
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    How long does it take before you can finally regard the money as yours? i.e. if you are asked to forward / refund any money, couldn't you just reply with, "yes, as soon as the cheque clears" or something like that?
    – komodosp
    Aug 24, 2022 at 9:46
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    @komodosp I'm not sure if theres any hard limit. It would depend on when the fraud was reported/detected. I wouldnt be comfortable in any situation where someone I dont really know is asking me to send back money that they sent to me.
    – JMac
    Aug 24, 2022 at 15:07
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Even if they can’t hack you with just that information, scams can be elaborate and involve multiple stages of gathering information about you. The first part of the scam might be to obtain the name of your bank. Then they email you and say they’re from that bank and need something urgently. Then they steal from you.

I have written a few checks lately, and I did not need the name of the bank where it would be deposited. That does not sound like important information for writing a check. This guide makes no mention of the receiving bank, for instance.

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    +1 you never need the name of the bank when you write a check. Just the name of the person or organization it's being written to.
    – jonlink
    Aug 23, 2022 at 11:37
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    Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property In the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear. (Black's Law Dictionary)
    – MTA
    Aug 23, 2022 at 12:24
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    @jonlink Varies by region, mind you - in SEPA it would normal to ask for full name, IBAN (account number), and SWIFT code (which identifies the bank). Aug 23, 2022 at 20:55
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    Yep, I get scams all the time where some very well known bank contacts me about my account....except I don't have an account there. That and the link I'm supposed to click is always super sketchy. If they actually knew what bank I use, at least the lead in to the scam could look a little more authentic.
    – JamieB
    Aug 24, 2022 at 20:32
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    The first step may also include parts not needed to check whether the subject knows how a cheque works. "Scammers insert sufficient clues into their messages so as to discourage responses from anyone who isn’t sufficiently gullible". Aug 25, 2022 at 9:34
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To answer the question in the headline: you give people your name (not necessarily full name), bank, and bank account number every time you write a check. You give them your email address (not necessarily your primary address) every time you communicate by email. So those are nearly public knowledge, and there is very little damage that can be done with only those three. You do want to be cautious as requests for personal data go beyond those, however.

But the rest of the transaction screams scam. Nobody will ever legitimately ask you to open an account on their behalf, or run their money through your account, or pay a fee in order to receive a payment, or... Ask yourself why they need someone else to do whatever it is; ask why they need you to do whatever it is. If in any doubt, run away.

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