Uh: money orders and check cashing (need answer fast!)


I accepted a position as a private tutor (it worked well with getting my second degree, and it was only a month for good pay). That’s background.

However, the guy wants to send me pay in advance. OK, fine whatever. He’s sending it by check via UPS. OK, fine by me.

He’s sending (sight unseen) a whopping amount much larger and wants to me cash it (!) and then send the remainder onward via Western Union to the pupil’s nanny in West Virginia.

Queue red flags appearing in front of my eyes.

Now, in a perfect world I might not care. I don’t need to know why they’re doing this. However, this is not perfect world. I cash that check and I am on the hook for something, although I can probably find a way to send the money. But, if I handle it, I could be on the hook for it. If I cash it, it’s counted as my personal income, and I’m liable for taxes on it. I am not a financial instrument.

Crap, how do I handle this now?
Other annoying things include sending me a bad UPS code, sending emails after 10:00 pm and wanting answers ASAP, and not telling me this until 10:00 am today… well after I left home.

It’s a scam. Don’t do it.

Run away – this is a well known scam. See here for a description.

Don’t cash it, don’t deposit it, in fact, treat it like toxic waste.

Here’s what will happen. You’ll deposit the check and then draw enough to get a WU money order, which you’ll send to the nanny. Then the check will bounce, your account will get deducted for the money order, and there will be no way you can get reimbursed by WU.

Ask him this question: “Why don’t you just send the money you owe the nanny directly to her?”

Wow. They were pretty good about. They fronted money to put an ad for a tutor and, despite poor spelling, gave an OK impression overall. It was only now that I started to really suspect something was up.

Oh well, that sucks, since I now don’t have a tutoring position. C’est la vie. Have to find others.

Think about just this one thing: the check is sent UPS so the guy isn’t subject to mail fraud prosecution if he sent it thru USPS.

How many red flags does it take for all of this to sink in?

Why do you think I suddenly got suspicious and started asking question?

Be sure to save all of your correspondence, including especially the UPS package, with these people and follow FTC’s advice:

The Tennessee AG contact numbers are available here.

You really haven’t heard of this scam? Hmm…

Hey, my cousin needs tutoring as well. He is a prince of Nigeria.

Staying far away from this is probably your best bet, but one option would be to cash the check, and wait until the funds have cleared before doing anything else (you might have to call your bank to find out exactly when this happens). That’s still going to stick you with a penalty for a returned deposit. At my bank, that’s only $9, so it might be worth it if I had any reason to believe the people were honest.

Sounds too good to be true == too good to be true

Considering that one way this works is that banks will say “it’s cleared!” after a few days and then come back a week to a few weeks later and smack you with the NSF penalty, that may not be a wise move. They may also suspect you of knowingly attempting to pass a bad money order and that could lead to more trouble.

I bank with Chase (formerly WaMu) and often have checks from clients that are questionable. (I do their bookkeeping, so I pretty much know if they have a lot of cash floating around or if they’re scraping by). Sometimes the bank can verify the amounts instantly and assure us the check will be good. In fact, with checks drawn from Chase, they have occasionally offered an unsolicited warning about a check that would have bounced. More often, it takes them a few days. We call a rep at the branch back periodically to make sure everything went through. At some point, the check has cleared, money has moved from one bank to another, and there’s no way it can go bad after that. Prior to Check21, that could take 2 weeks or so, but it seems to be just three or four days now.

It is my understanding that the fraudulent nature of the checks comes to light after it looks like you have the money in the account. And that is basically how the scam works. You get the check deposit it. It looks like it clears so you wire the extra money to the scammer. Then the fraudulent nature of the check comes to light and the bank takes the money back. You are out the extra money you sent the scammer and any returned check fees.

From http://www.fraud.org/tips/internet/fakecheck.htm Ex_chemist’s link

This might not be a completely disastrous suggestion, but it certainly is not a good one. He should follow the steps recommended by the FTC above. At no point should he indorse and present the check, which under the law of commercial paper makes him a warranter of its genuineness.

It’s called the Over-payment scam. You are not only responsible for paying back any money you sent to the scammers, but the money remaining, that you keep, is not real either.

So if you spend any of the money you kept, it is just like writing a bad check. Send a money order back for $10,000, you now owe your bank 10k. Spend $2500 of ‘your’ money that you were allowed to keep, you now owe $12,500.

The OP is selling a service, but many small companies get taken in by this scam believing that the scammer actually wants their product. In that case the returned money is usually directed to a 3rd party for shipping or customs fees. That 3rd party is the real scammer and no one is really interested in getting the actual product offered.

I started a job about 2 years ago, (no longer there) at a small mom and pop biz and they were just about to order a large, custom, heavy glass shower enclosure for an orphanage, for a reverend in Montana, but shipped to Africa. I had a hell of a time as the new guy convincing them not to forward the shipping fees. And unless the owners were building a new building, not to order the custom shower either.

They would have been out the ‘shipping’ fees and stuck with a very expensive custom shower that no one would buy.

For future reference; if you ever have an occasion to do what you believe is new, legitimate business out-of-country, the best way is for your bank to establish an “Irrevocable Letter of Credit” between two banks that will verify the status of each other, and the process, before proceeding. It’s the best way to insure that you will get your money.

Any attempt to rush the process is a clear indication to run away


Oh, and West Virginia might as well be Nigeria or Mars. These things are increasing and coming from everywhere. Multi Billion dollars are taken in this way per year in the US alone. (no I don’t mean million, Billion)

If you have to forward money to get a job, it’s a scam. That is how the ‘work from home’ internet scams now popular work. They will tell you it’s only $2 for the how-to instructions and you end up with an $80 monthly charge on your credit card that you have a hell of a time cancelling.

My understanding is that in some cases in can take months for a phony check to be finally and definitely determined as fraudulent. I think it’s a fallacy to believe that you’re likely to get a 100% positive “it’s cleared” commitment from the bank. I would not rely on this method.

Why are people suggesting that the OP continue with this??? It is so clearly and obviously a scam the OP needs to walk away and forget about it. This makes the issue of how long to wait for the check to bounce immaterial.

So have you actually met with these people? On the phone or in person? Or has this all been online so far? Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a scam, I’m just wondering.