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The Saanich Police Financial Crimes Section would like citizens to be aware of scams involving the use of counterfeit cashier's cheques.  Initially these schemes targeted individuals that used Internet classified ads to sell merchandise. Now variations on this scam can be perpetrated over the phone, internet or in person.

Typically, an interested party located outside Canada contacts a seller.  The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in Canada that owes him money.  As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier's cheque for the amount owed to the buyer.  This amount will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise, and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location.  The seller is instructed to deposit the cheque, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer, or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. 

Because a cashier's cheque is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold.  Falsely believing the cheque has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.  In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money.  Shortly thereafter, their bank notifies the victim that the cheque was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the cheque.

The Saanich Police Department is cautioning citizens to be wary of any purchasers proposing to conduct transactions in this manner, and to take the steps necessary to ensure that a cheque has fully cleared before doing anything with those funds.

Anyone who thinks they might have fallen victim to this or any other type of Internet scam should notify their local police department and their bank.

More information can be obtained from the RCMP Website

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