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 Brat or scam?

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Spawn73b
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:38 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

My sister rents a room in Spain. The hosts are also going to rent out another room and has advertised it.

They got an email from a person in England saying he wants the room.

Someone, his father (?) has wired them money enough for 1 year, but then this person has called leaving a message on their answering machine asking to have 11 months of the rent transfered back to his own bankaccount.


So, either this guy is a brat who wants his fathers money, or this is some sort of scam. Could it be the latter?
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Renard
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This could very well be a scam. Actually I am almost certain. Have them ask their bank if the money that was transfered to their account was done by check. If so than it is very likely the check is fake. This means that if they send any money back they will likely do so before the check actually clears.

What this means for them is that once the bank discovers that the check is fake they will remove the money from the account, regardless of if it is still there or not. This could quite possibly drive the account negitive (depending on the money there) and depending on the laws there could get them in legal trouble for being involved in a transaction involving a fake check.

It sounds very much like the "Oopse, I overpaid, please Western Union the money back to me" scam, just somewhat variable.

So at the very least have them refuse to send the money until the check clears (assuming it is in fact a check). Personally if it was deposited by check I would alert the bank to possible fraud.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:47 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Are they asking for the money to be wired back through Western Union or Moneygram?

There is a common scam running which involves "rooms for rent". The prospective "tenant" flashes the landlord's bank accout, or sends a cheque for a large amount. They are then asked to send 90% of it back to the tenant as he has changed his mind about paying that much up front. Then eventually, the cheque bounces, or the initial amount dissapears from the landlords account, leaving him owing money to the bank.

Get the landlord to read up about room for rent scams, he needs to be aware of how they operate.

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Spawn73b
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 3:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'll try asking about the method used to pay, and the method suggested for returning the money.

I hope it's not a scam, they allready kicked one dude out for this new renter (apparently they promised him the room, then heard nothing from him for ages, till he out of the blue paid them 1 year upfront).


How long will a bank take to verify that the money is real normally (in Spain)?
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 3:55 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
So at the very least have them refuse to send the money until the check clears.


This WILL separate a scam from a brat. With a scam the money will actually never materialize.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:07 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Renard wrote:
So at the very least have them refuse to send the money until the check clears (assuming it is in fact a check).


That would be a tragic mistake. I believe in most countries, when a check clears, the depositor is given provisional access to the money, but it can still be returned many months later when the clearing house rejects it. Lots of people think they are safe once the check clears, and the scammers count on that.

Good information about check scams can be found at www.fakechecks.org and www.scamwarners.com

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:17 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

In the mean time, I would tell the landlord to reply with, "As soon as you arrive, sign the rental agreement and settle in, we will be happy to reimburse you in person."

If it's a scam, the scammer has all the contact details of the renter. BUT, nobody will show up to sign an agreement or rent the room anyway if the original payment was bogus. Nobody is going to risk showing up if they suspect that LEO or a pissed landlord might be waiting for them.

If it's a brat, he'll arrive, sign the agreement and chances are he will spend the 11 months returned money. He won't make the rent payment on month 2... Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Lots of people think they are safe once the check clears, and the scammers count on that.


In my mind that turns checks useless, it clears but then it doesn't?
Not that I use checks, but have they outlived their function now?


Just keep the 11 months until they leave the house again. they can't complain and if they don't show up you'll have to find another renter.

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Last edited by bill2 on Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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benjaminbunny
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:20 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I would say it was 101% scam, and if not, then I don't think I would want anyone to rent my flat, get his father to pay, and then have him ask for 11 months rent back - it doesn't sound promising to ever collect any more rent. (edit: as asiaguy said, beating me to it Smile )

As a scam, if it wasn't a check, it could be "account flashing" - money wired bank to bank, paid in at the depositor's bank with a fake check or other means. Either way, the money is going to be claimed back from the recipient by the bank. I would run a mile from it.

@ Bill - there's 'clearing' and 'clearing' - when a bank tells you it's cleared, it only means they have made the funds available. If the other bank finds out later the check was fake or stolen - that's when the trouble starts. If it's a check from someone you know, it shouldn't be a problem...

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

a check has to be sent physically to the issuing bank before it 'clears' As this is not done on an individual basis...your bank waits until it has a lot of checks and then sends them bulk.This can take up to six months...
As People cannot wait six months for their paycheck to clear,banks have an agreement to 'honour' a check in a much shortcr period....from 7 to 10 working days.

This is the loophole the scammers exploit...the bank teller might not tell the difference between a well made fake and a real check so it might enter the system...
once the money is 'honoured' the scammer demands his 11 months back.
you send it and weeks later your bank debits your account the full amount of the check.


What you are discribing is the exact modality used in this kind of scam....no doubt....at all....really

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:36 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
In my mind that turns checks useless, it clears but then it doesn't?


This is interesting.
In the country that I live all deposits made by cheque go into your "ledger account."
I've sometimes had cheques sitting in my "personal ledger account" for weeks.

When I go to the ATM or bank, I get a statement that says "ledger balance" and "available balance." The money from the cheque isn't "available" until after passes the clearing house.

I have cheques sent to me from Hong Kong, the UK, Canada, the USA etc. The HK cheques stay ledger for an average of 4 business days. The UK cheques take about 5 business days to clear. The North American cheques stay ledger for up to 20 business days. Once I have the $$ declared "available" it is MINE under local banking laws.
TT $$ are also treated the same way. Once the $$ are declared "available" there is nothing that can be done to yank those $$ back.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Many people, including some who have posted above, do not understand the process of ensuring that a cheque will actually be honoured.

I will trot out something that I have posted many times when members begin uninformed discussions about cheques 'clearing'.

Quote:
The term 'cleared' means many things to many people and, as I understand it, the word 'cleared' has no legal definition in banking terms.

This was an answer to the same question given by a senior bank manager of a UK bank on Eater some time ago.

<quote>
It is not possible to know for sure after 5 days that a cheque will not bounce.
In the U.K. it can take up to 15 days before a customer paying in a cheque to his account hears from his bank that the cheque has been returned by the bank on which it was drawn.
It is no use whatsoever asking your bank if the cheque has 'cleared'.
You, the member of staff you speak to, and the 'Bank', will all put a different definition to the (misused) term 'cleared'.
A bank may 'clear' cheques paid in by allowing you to draw against them on day 1; they may 'clear' them for payment of interest after day 3; they may treat them as 'cleared' for this or that after x number of days but, until the bank on which a cheque was drawn (that is the senders bank) definitely pays it, no one knows if it is 'cleared'.
The customer paying in a cheque only gets to know if it has been 'cleared' by default; ie the passage of sufficient time to allow the bank on which it was drawn (the senders bank) to bounce it to your bank and for them to advise you, usually by second class snail mail.
<end quote>

That information describes the process in the UK and the pitfalls of acting on advice or assumptions about a 'cleared' cheque.
As I understand it the process is exactly the same in other countries including the US.
However, the US banking system is very much slower and, where the process in the UK usually takes about 15 days, in the US it can take up to 6 months, sometimes longer.
For that reason the dud cheque scam works more successfully in the US.

The reason why so many people fall victim to this scam centres around their misunderstanding of the word 'cleared'.
As can be seen in the bank managers quote above, that word means different things to different people yet has no legal definition.
So, initially, when a victim deposits a cheque in his bank account and is told that a cheque is 'cleared' what that really means is that he's free to draw against it until or unless it is, at some time in the future, rejected by the bank on which it is drawn.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:52 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^
Thanks for clearing that up, BB Very Happy

Whilst this is most likely a fake cheque scam, there is another method that is sometimes seen in job and other scams. If this was a bank wire to the landlord's account from the supposed "father's" account, the money may actually have come from the compromised account of a phishing victim. If this is the case, the wire will be reversed when the victim discovers the theft and reports it.

Even if WU is not involved, I guarantee that if the landlord transfers 11 months of rent to the supposed tenant's account, the money will be immediately withdrawn and the account closed, leaving the landlord on the hook for the entire amount.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:32 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I live in the United States. When I pay a credit card bill the money is deducted from my checking account seemingly within minutes of the check arriving at the billing center. It makes no sense to me that it can take up to six months for a bank to determine that a check is fraudulent, and that the customer should be held responsible in that case.

If US banking laws were reformed to make banks responsible for any checks that don't actually clear after a set period (10 days?) and all of this was clearly explained to customers I suspect that this sort of check fraud would quickly vanish.

Then the scammers would have to turn to hitman scripts, which I find far more entertaining! Razz
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Renard
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Full requote of previous post deleted. Read it ^^^^

It is an artifact of how checking initially worked. Basically initially checks were issued by banks so that their customers would not have to physically visit their bank in order to withdraw funds. Effectively it was to make their money more portable.

This was before computers were nearly so wide spread. Heck, it may have been before computers even existed (I am not 100% clear on the time line).

But basically the way it works is this:

A check is really just a promissory note from your bank with a slight twist: you can determine how much the note is worth. When you think of a check that way suddenly a lot of things make sense. Banks have agreements with each other that make them "accept" checks almost on the spot in order to keep things moving. Since there are so many banks out there hardly anyone really looks to make sure that the issuing bank is real, or that the account number actually exists, or any of that until there is a problem.

When a bank accepts a check that does not mean it has cleared (at least, not in the way I am using the term)! This is where the provisional access to the money comes from. In effect they are honoring the promissory note under the assumption that all the information is correct.

When I say "wait for a check to clear" I mean wait for the bank to verify that the check is in fact real. You can probably speed up the clearing process by 1) asking if the deposit was done by check and if so 2) notifying your bank that the check may be fake and ask them the look into it. At least, that is how things work at my bank (well... credit union).

Once the Bank has verified the check and not merely accepted it then I consider the check to be "cleared." At that point you can be fairly sure that the check was not a forgery.

In any case, ScamWarners has a lot better information on the topic and BB's post has a lot of useful information as well. There is another site (Fraud Watchers) that had a good post on what Flashing an account is so you may want to look there too.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:23 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Bill2 asked a few posts back whether cheques have had their day...
I certainly believe so. Let's face it, when was the last time you used one?

I raised 500 for a small UK charity not long back, and I chose to give them a cheque. I thought it would be nice to have a photo handing over the cheque for the publicity that the charity uses.
Before that, I don't think I've used a cheque in 2 years or more.

Cheques tend to be used by fraudsters mainly these days. I buy and sell on ebay now and then, and I think if someone asked me to accept a cheque I would run a mile. I mean, what's the problem with a paypal payment, or a bank transfer, or whatever?

Most UK businesses are now stating that they will no longer accept cheques as payment, Sainsburys supermarkets and Total petrol filling stations being two good examples. They cite that they have a lot of trouble with fraudulent cheque payments, and if a customer has a cheque book, then he/she should have a valid debit card to support it anyway, so why would a customer not just use the debit card?

So in answer to Bill2, yes I think that the cheque's days are numbered, thankfully.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Renard wrote:
In any case, ScamWarners has a lot better information on the topic and BB's post has a lot of useful information as well.

HERE is Emma's excellent post regarding cheque scams, which includes an explanation of why it can take so long for a cheque to come back as fraudulent.

The simple fact is that this scam is fueled by ignorance of the process by which cheques "clear", and the assumption by many victims that it is the bank's fault for making the funds available before the cheque has cleared the issuing bank. The truth is that fair banking laws in many countries require banks to make deposited funds available for withdrawal within X number of days, usually long before the cheque even arrives at the issuing bank or clearing house. Further, many bank customers do not seem to understand that when they deposit a cheque, it is their responsibility to make sure it is good, not the bank's.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:51 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't write checks anymore, either. Most of the people I know who still write them are older people. My grandma, for example, before she got sick, wrote checks. She can't deal with her own finances anymore, but until she turned that over to a relative, she didn't even bother activating the debit card that came with her checking account.

An older couple at my church are the same way. They could simply use their debit cards, but would rather write checks. This is because debit cards are rather new, from their point of view. To me, a debit card is old hat, of course. But to older people, the checkbook has been part of their lives since they were even younger than I am.

But younger people? Nah...I don't see too many of us writing checks at the grocery or record store. We even pay college-related bills, like to the Housing Office, online with debit cards.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Spawn73b wrote:
Brat or scam?


Scam. Common modality 100% scam.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:51 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Brat or Scammer (and yes, he's a scammer) he's 100% dodgy and I wouldn't let him near the place. Just as a matter of interest, where was the Room To Rent advert placed? My crystal ball says "Craigslist" or some other online lad mothership.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:43 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I don't know much about it because it's just through an email she send to my mother. Upon hearing it I thought it was kinda dodgy and said so, but my mother wasn't convinced so I doubt she passed the information on.

I'll ask her tommorow morning and if she hasn't I'll contact my sister to make sure they don't return the money to him.


Even if I manage to stop this the scammer allready made a mess since the landlord needed to clear a room for him (they felt since they had originally promised it to him, plus, 12 months rent is alot of money to them).
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 1:51 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Spawn73b,
You could, if you wish, copy the emails from the prospective room-renter to me (by PM) and I'll find out a little more information for you.
What you have described is a classic scam and I don't expect that it will be difficult to prove that very quickly.

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Spawn73b
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

It ended well, they are now aware that it is a scam and wont be returning any money to him.

Upon being told this the scammer then contacted them again and said that they should return the money to his father who somehow managed to loose all his money in Germany and thus needed it to get back to England. If they needed money to make this transaction he would be happy to pay upfront (why not pay directly to his father ?), providing they'd supply him with the CC information.

Ofcourse they're not falling for that.


Interestingly enough they said that there weren't even able to access the money in their Spanish bank, as the money was "there", but not available too them, I guess to the check clears, or doesn't.

Thanks for the help guys.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:08 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm glad they've seen through it Spawn, thanks for letting us know how it turned out.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

It may be worth their while telling the Spanish bank that there may have been a fraudulent deposit made, before the bank tells them. If those funds were deposited with a counterfeit cheque, then someone committed a crime. They do not want the bank to think that they did it.

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