Toronto student loses $2,000 due to cheque overpayment scam

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It’s a financial fraud that has been around for years, but thieves are once again using the cheque overpayment scam to try and separate you from your money.

“I lost $2,000 and I am on a tight budget, so I want the bank to recognize that I have been scammed,” said Camilo Coronado.

Coronado is a Toronto chemistry student who was hoping to make extra money offering tutoring lessons online and he posted an ad on the classified website Kijiji.

Someone contacted Coronado and offered to pay him $50 an hour for tutoring, but sent him a cheque for $1,000. The person apologized, said it was an accident and asked him to deposit the cheque and return $950 to him.

This happened twice. Coronado deposited the two cheques for $1,000 each into his account, but became suspicious and decided to return all the money to the person.

“I decided in good faith to return the money because I decided not to do business with this individual,” said Coronado.

However, after he sent the funds back, his bank contacted him to say the cheques were fake and he was now responsible for the missing $2,000.

“Two days later, I got notified by the bank that my account was frozen and I was blocked, and I was told the cheques were fraudulent,” said Coronado.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said the cheque overpayment scam falls under vendor fraud and said that 3,000 Canadians lost more than $7 million in similar payment scams last year.

The centre reminds Canadians that if you deposit a cheque in your bank account, the money is not really in your account until it is cleared by the bank.

“Make sure you wait until a cheque or a wire transfer clears with your bank before you can be certain the money is really in your account,” said Sue Labine with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Coronado’s bank account is with TD Canada Trust and he was originally told he was responsible for the loss and his appeal for reimbursement was denied.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to TD Bank, a spokesperson told us, “Fraudsters are constantly evolving the ways in which they target Canadians and it’s concerning when a customer falls victim to a scam. We recognize that in addition to the potential financial impact, these situations can be very stressful. We have connected with our customer directly and are providing support to resolve this matter.”

“We encourage customers to always be wary of anyone who supposedly sends you money and then asks for some of it to be sent back – particularly if you’ve never met them,” the spokesperson added.

Following another review of Coronado’s case, he was refunded his $2,000, which was great news for him.

“It’s amazing. It’s absolutely great because I need these funds,” Coronado said.

If you’re ever selling something and get a cheque for more than what you asked for that should be a red flag. If you must take payment in the form of a cheque, you can ask for a certified cheque and go to your bank to cash it to make sure it’s legitimate.

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