Fraud by travellers cheques

Fraudsters tried a traveller’s cheque fraud on me this week.

The fraudster hired me to do an editing job for an AIDS charity based in Greece.

I gave them an estimate. They offered to pay a 50% deposit. So I gave them my payment instructions – pay by bank transfer, Paypal or a cheque.

Travelers Cheque von American Express

A US dollar traveller's cheque. (Image via Wikipedia)

They then “accidentally” sent me €2,000 in travellers cheques as payment – well over £1,000 too much – and asked me to take my fee out of that money and send the remaining money back to them through Western Union.

Both my bank and American Express have said the cheques are counterfeits.

Fortunately, I hadn’t started the job yet so the only thing I’ve lost is about an hour from emailing the fraudster and dealing with the bank, American Express and the police.

But a lesson has been learnt: If an offer of work looks suspicious, say no.

UPDATE – 5 Dec: Before discovering the cheques are fake, I emailed the fraudster requesting his bank account details so I could send the money directly to him. Today he sent a reply saying that he did not have a bank account.

Claiming that his charity does not have a bank account is a definite red flag.

UPDATE – 6 Dec: I received an email from the website the fraudster contacted me through. The site’s representative has said that some of members of the site, whose details are stored on a database, received “suspect job offers from the same source”. The email didn’t say if the database the fraudster got our information from (which, presumably, holds all of our personal details) was compromised. Turns out the database wasn’t compromised, thankfully.


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About rcosgrove

UK-based journalist, screenwriter and director.

6 responses to “Fraud by travellers cheques”

  1. Tobie Abad says :

    Yikes!Would you be okay if i share this to my friends in case any of them are targetted with a similar modus operandi?

  2. Richard Cosgrove says :

    Go ahead. The more people who know the better.I've reported it to the UK police and to other copy-editors in the UK.

  3. Tobie Abad says :

    Good thing you caught up on the scam.

  4. Richard Cosgrove says :

    The initial emails seemed suspicious.They became very suspicious when they said they'd sent the cheques – a £1,000 overpayment.So when the bank refused to accept the cheques, after spending 15 minutes checking them, I thought "A-ha! That's why it all seemed suspicious."

  5. Tobie Abad says :

    Gosh, the worst I had was a web-based writing gig that owes me around Php 3,000 (which would be really small when converted to your currency) so yeah, good thing you caught them. Hope you didn't work on it though. Or that's lost time.

  6. Richard Cosgrove says :

    +Tobie Abad I didn't lose any money. I'll only begin a job if when I receive a deposit and the payment appears into my bank account. And the the only time I lost was replying to fraudster's emails and at the bank – 10 minutes queuing and then 20 minutes while they checked the cheques – and reporting it to the police. Could've been a lot worse.

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