How can I burn a fake check scammer?
November 21, 2012 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Someone's trying to run a fake check scam on me. I posted my apartment on Craigslist, and they are proposing to send me a check from their boss which covers both rent and and moving expenses, in the expectation that I will send them back the difference. Is there any way to burn them back, for instance by providing the requested repayment details to law enforcement?
posted by Estragon to Law & Government (12 answers total)
You can provide all the details you have now to law enforcement, but trying to play vigilante can seriously come back and bite you in the ass unless you really know your way around the local fraud laws.
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on November 21, 2012 [11 favorites]

No crime has (yet) been committed, afaik. So i don't know what could be done until after the fact.
Plus, are they even in the jurisdiction of your local police? If not, there is little they could do.
Best not to waste your time with them, the scam is common enough.
posted by TheAdamist at 10:24 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is going to be hard because there may be an issue of jurisdiction. If the perpetrator is in another state or something you'll have to file your complaint with that police department.

If they're out of the country, well, no, that's pert nigh impossible to deal with.

It would be fun to get some revenge, but just move on.

Sometimes it's not worth the drama.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:26 AM on November 21, 2012

About the only thing that *might* be worthwhile to do would be to contact your closest FBI field office with the info. They will take your info and, whether they get anywhere with it or not, you'll probably never hear from them again. If you're looking for a thrill, rent a go-kart. If you want to save time and aggravation, simply ignore the scammer. It happens constantly.
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:39 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

The only safe way to toy with them, I think, would be to perpetually "not receive" their check so that they re-send. And re-send. Eventually they'll go away, or in the best case scenario they'll pay for certified delivery or something equally stupid, in which case you can then turn 'em in or else just say "ha ha, scammer".
posted by aramaic at 10:43 AM on November 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

If you recognize it as a scam, there is nothing to do but not fall for the scam.

There is no "burning them back" because at this point, you have not been burned. At best, they have proposed that they might attempt to burn you. I don't practice criminal law but I highly question if this even counts as an attempted crime. I don't think an attempt would occur until they mail the bogus check to you. (what constitutes an criminal "attempt" can be a bit gray)

Just move on and find someone else to rent the apartment. I don't understand why people are recommending that local law enforcement or even the FBI get involved. I've had a hard enough time getting the authorities involved when my clients have been defrauded for >$500k. They are not going to pay attention to the non-crime described here.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:45 AM on November 21, 2012

Is there any way to burn them back, for instance by providing the requested repayment details to law enforcement?

Assuming they pull this scam regularly, their repayment details have probably been reported to law enforcement already by someone who fell for the scam. Part of the point of these sorts of scams is that they can't reliably be traced back to the scammer, otherwise they wouldn't work and nobody would do them. You could try some other method of ferreting out information about them by pretending to play along with the scam, but that's unlikely to get you anywhere as others have said, especially if the scammer knows what they are doing.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2012

Package up all the information you have now and report it to the Attorney General's office in both your state and the state the perpetrator appears to be in. Then move on.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2012

Anything really satisfying will be illegal or open you up to some liability. I say draw a dick on the check and mail it back. Simple, subtle, and a little satisfying.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2012 [13 favorites]

Gum up their works. Claim not to have received the check a couple of times to see if you can get them to keep spending money on mailing you stuff. Then tell them that you deposited the check, but the bank contacted you because the account number linked to a UK bank account owned by someone named "Olusegun Obasanjo," and do they know who that is?
posted by 1adam12 at 12:04 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I do not exactly recommend this, but if you're determined to fuck around with this guy, then the best expertise will likely be found at, a "scambaiting" community with an active forum. This is not technically a 419 scam, but it is a similarly structured advance fee scam, and those characteristics may allow you to develop a strategy.

I don't know that the craiglist scammers are as persistent as some of the 419 scammers -- there are plenty of other opportunities for them. He may just bail on you at the first sign of delay or resistance.
posted by dhartung at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

dhartung beat me to it -- 419eater are the masters of trolling scammers for fun and (occasional) profit. The best you can do is to waste their time. This of course wastes your time too, but if you're enjoying it and they're tearing their hair out then your time commitment can be filed as "leisure", as a more entertaining alternative to TV, computer games or whatever. For them it's work.
posted by pont at 2:28 PM on November 21, 2012

« Older No pink ribbon, thanks   |   Riot in Newark City Council? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.