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Deposit refund scams

This deposit refund scam is when criminals contact you telling you that an amount of money was deposited into your bank account by accident, or that they have paid you a deposit for an urgent order that must be delivered immediately.

The scammer either asks you to refund the deposit, or to release the order, amount and they send you a ‘proof of payment’. The ‘proof’ is either a copy of a deposit slip, a cheque, or an altered Internet banking payment confirmation.

Scenrarios of scams youneed to be aware of

  • Scenario A
    • You are approached via telephone or email with an urgent order.
    • A deal is structured, usually involving a direct deposit into your bank account.
    • A copy of the stamped bank deposit slip for cash is faxed to you.
    • Goods are released to fraudsters.
    • A fraudulent cheque is deposited instead of cash and the deposit slip is fraudulently amended.
    • The cheque is unpaid due to it being fraudulent.
    • Your bank account is debited.
    • You are unable to contact the "client" and suffer the loss
  • Scenario B
    • You are approached via telephone or email with an urgent order.
    • A copy of a stamped bank deposit slip for cash, for a higher amount than originally agreed upon, is faxed to you.
    • The "client" then contacts you and requests that the excess amount be returned via electronic transfer to a specified account.
    • On the strength of the faxed copy of the deposit slip, you refund the excess amount, unaware that a fraudulent cheque was deposited instead of cash and the deposit slip was fraudulently amended. The cheque is unpaid.
    • Your bank account is debited.
    • You are unable to contact the "client" and suffer the loss as the funds have already been withdrawn from the fraudster's account.
  • Scenario C
    • You are approached via telephone or email with an urgent order.
    • A copy of a stamped bank deposit slip for cash, for a higher amount than originally agreed upon, is faxed to you.
    • An internet transfer receipt is fraudulently manipulated to reflect a "transfer" to your account. The transfer could be for the exact amount of the order as in scenario A, or for an amount in excess of the agreed amount as in scenario B.
    • The fraudulent internet receipt is faxed to you.
    • The goods are released to the criminals, or the "excess" refunded as previously described.
    • Your bank account is debited.
    • You are unable to contact the "client" and suffer the loss as the funds have already been withdrawn from the fraudster's account.

How to protect yourself from a deposit refund scam

  • Be suspicious of any request for a refund due to overpayment
  • Phone the bank and enquire whether the deposit is a cheque or cash deposit before you make the refund. Don't use any numbers provided by the suspected fraudster. Always use the number you would normally use, or look up the number of the bank
  • Request a special clearance on cheque deposits or wait until they have cleared completely.
  • Be cautious of clients who want to ‘keep their distance’
  • Retain complete records
  • Don't be pressurised by any claims of urgency; don't relax controls and procedures; and don't proceed if you have any doubts
  • Be suspicious of a faxed confirmation of payment receipt from someone requesting a refund. Rather contact the bank for confirmation of receipt of the funds and the manner of payment
  • Report the incident the South African Police Service and provide them with all the details of the request