Eva van Emden, Freelance Editor

Certified Copy Editor and Proofreader


November 29, 2011

A scam that targets editors

A few editors I know have been approached for a potential cheque overpayment scam. Here’s how it works: the editor is offered an editing or translation job, typically with a very quick turnover time. The client insists on paying by cheque. After the payment has been made, the client discovers that they have overpaid and asks the editor to send back the overpayment, or the payer asks the editor to send some money on to another payee. After the editor cashes the client’s cheque, it turns out to be invalid.

Signs that an editing job might be a scam

  • There are signs that the client is contacting many people at the same time. The email you receive might not be addressed to you by name, or you are bcc’d on an email addressed to someone else.
  • The client shows more interest in a quick turnaround time than in the price of the job or the quality of your work.
  • The information about the client is incomplete or inconsistent.

How to protect yourself

Be careful with cheques from new clients you don’t have complete confidence in.
  • Make sure the name of the issuer of the cheque matches the name of the client. Do a web search on the name of the client and name of the cheque issuer.
  • The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre recommends against accepting any cheque for more than you are owed.
  • Be aware that just because the money is made available in your bank account, that doesn’t mean the cheque was valid. According to a recent CBC article, “Depending on how good the counterfeit is, it can take weeks for a financial institution to detect the fraud. By then, the scammers are long gone with the money, and the victim is on the hook for the amount on the cheque.”
  • If your business takes on many one-time clients and bad cheques are a concern, consider PayPal, Interac e-transfer (within Canada), or bank transfers.

Further reading

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