Ontario artist loses $800 to cheque overpayment scam

Brandon Baghaee of Richmond Hill, Ont. is an art student going to university who occasionally tries to make money to help pay for his education by painting portraits.

When he recently accepted a job through Instagram to paint a portrait, he was ripped off $800 in a cheque overpayment scam.

“I also let her know that I’m a university student and don’t have a lot of money,” Baghaee said.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians lost more than 21 million dollars to vendor fraud in 2021, and one of those scams is a cheque overpayment scam.

The cheque overpayment scam has been around for decades, but now scammers are using it on younger people because many of them are unfamiliar with using cheques.

Some may not realize when you deposit a cheque, the money is not really in your account until the cheque clears, which can take days, depending on your bank.

With the overpayment scam, a criminal will usually send you a cheque for a product or service but then claim they made a mistake by sending you too much and then request a portion of the funds back.

Baghaee said a woman saw his paintings on Instagram and said she would pay him $300 to paint her daughter’s painting from a photo. She was to send him a $100 deposit, but instead, she sent him a cheque for $1,100, claiming she made a mistake.

She asked him to e-transfer $800 of the funds back to her.

“I deposited that cheque, and we just came to the solution that I will send you $800 back, and I will take the $300 for the portrait,” said Baghaee.

Days later, the cheque bounced, and Baghaee was scammed out of the $800.

Baghaee is with TD Bank, and TD spokesperson Ashleigh Murphy said, “We are sorry to hear about Mr. Baghaee’s circumstance, and understand how distressing this must be. I can confirm our internal team will be contacting Mr. Bagahee directly on [the] next steps.”

“While we make every effort to educate and create awareness to protect against common scams, such as the cheque overpayment scam, we would offer this advice,” said Murphy.

“Always be aware of who you are accepting a cheque from, if funds are being exchanged as payment, we advise to accept only guaranteed funds (cash, bank draft, etc.) and do not accept cheques that have been altered in any way,” said Murphy.

If a customer believes they have fallen victim to a scam or fraud, they should report it immediately to their financial institution, the police, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre advises TD Bank.

Baghaee wants to stay positive and hopes by sharing his story, he can help others avoid getting caught in the cheque overpayment scam.

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