Beware of scam targeting people selling items online

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you are looking to make extra money selling things online, be careful. You could lose the item and your money too.

The Better Business Bureau is warning about a scam that targets people online, no matter what they are selling. Experts say it can happen to anyone.

Victims of the scam list an item for sale online, and a buyer agrees to the price.

Then, that buyer sends the seller more than the asking price of the item. The buyer then contacts the seller about the overpayment, asking them to refund that portion of the money.

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After they have sent the item and the refund, the seller discovers the actual, initial overpayment was fraudulent and there wasn't any money to begin with.

"The best way to avoid it is to wait until you have been able to confirm that money is legitimate before you send the item out to whoever is buying it. You can tell the buyer that you are going to wait until you have confirmed the payment is real and in your account before you actually send the item to them," Leah Napoliello with the Houston Better Business Bureau said.

Napoliello says this particular scam has been around for awhile, but is seeing a surge in popularity as online transactions become more and more common during the pandemic.

In the past, the overpayment would come in the form of a check. Remember even if you deposit a check and have access to the money, the actual funds are not in your bank account. It can take five days or longer for the bank to discover a bad check, and then you are on the hook for repaying that money.

Often, the bank will seize the money in your account to cover the bad check.

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