Beware of the latest scam-affecting suppliers who release goods on confirmation of deposits to their bank accounts. The typical modus operandi is as follows:
The suspects will order goods / supplies from a retailer for a substantial amount.
They will deposit hard cash into the suppliers / retailers bank account - a true and genuine transaction.
They will hand the supplier proof of the deposit and load their order.
UP TO THIS STAGE - all is above board.
The suspects will then return to the bank outlet where they have deposited the funds earlier that day with the true copy of the deposit and CLAIM that they have deposited the funds into the WRONG supplier's bank account.
The suspect then requests the following from the Bank: -
REVERSE the deposit by issuing a Bank's own Cheque to the debit of the client's account.
The Bank cheque is then cashed and the cunning fraudster disappears with the cash AND the supplies / goods ordered.
CASH DEPOSIT SCAM
A frequent form of fraud occurs when the goods you are selling are paid for by cheque or bank deposit and the buyer presents you with a copy of the deposit slip (faxed or hard copy).
Fraudsters deposit a cheque into the client's account as payment for goods ordered from the company or in payment of goods offered for sale in the Junk Mail or other small advertisements.
The fraudsters amend the client copy of the deposit slip to reflect "cash" OR fabricate a deposit slip to reflect the deposit as cash. Sometimes even the client copy of the printed teller receipt is altered to reflect the deposit as cash. Thereafter they fax a copy of the deposit to the client, which reflects the purported cash deposit.
The cheque is normally returned after delivery of goods resulting in the client having supplied goods and not received payment.
ELECTRONIC REFUND SCAM
The latest version of deposit scams is where the fraudsters obtain an electronic 'refund' of a deposit made. The modus operandi of the fraudster(s) is as follows: -
A large 'order' is placed with a merchant or he/she buys expensive items such as laptops or cars offered for private sale.
The buyer offers to deposit 'cash' into the unsuspecting sellers' account.
A fraudulent cheque is deposited to the seller's account.
A copy of a deposit slip or a manipulated teller receipt (fraudulently altered to reflect 'cash') or even a totally fraudulent 'copy' deposit slip (not a true copy of the original) is faxed to the seller(s).
The fraudster comes up with some plausible excuse as to why he/she cannot take up the order or can only take up part there of OR he / she advises the seller that an excess amount has been deposited in 'error'. An electronic refund is requested to a nominated account.
The seller may oblige, transferring clear funds to the fraudster's account.
Two to three days later, the fraudulent cheque is returned, leaving the dealer out of pocket.
The following precautions should be taken to protect your interests.
We strongly advise clients to verify "cash" deposits with the branch where the deposit was made or in the case of a cheque deposit, that the funds have been cleared. It is recommended that you speak to a senior member of staff and specifically ask if it was cash or a cheque.
Do not rely on the 'available balance' as reflected on an ATM or on Internet Banking as it may include 'uncleared effects', that is cheques received for deposit but not yet cleared by the drawee bank.
Wait for funds to be cleared before releasing goods.
Check with your branch first. There are certain circumstances when bank-issued cheques will not be honoured and if you release goods in return for one of these cheques, you could be out of pocket.
A special clearance can be requested on a cheque to speed up the payment process. There is, however, a fee attached to this service.
Do not accept a faxed bank deposit slip as proof of payment. Figures and details can easily be altered to reflect a higher value or forged to reflect a cash deposit.
Withdrawals against uncleared cheques are done at your own risk. The bank is entitled to debit your account with the amount of an unpaid or dishonoured cheque.
Different banks have different 'Effects not Cleared' periods for cheques, meaning that the "available balance" indicated on your account statement (hardcopy statement and statements drawn from the internet or automated tellers) may include cheque deposits that have not been cleared yet.