What did you mean by a wire transfer is as good as cash "ALMOST"? In what cases would it not be as good as cash?
We have an unusual situation which just arose today.
We have an old Hobie Wave, with no rudders, for sale for $1,200. A guy in Belgium wants to buy it and says he will have a shipping company pick it up. He paid for it with a direct wire transfer into our bank account. The catch is that instead of sending $1,200, he sent $12,000.
We e-mailed him and told him of this apparent "error." He expressed surprise and gratitude that we are so "honest," but said this error was going to be a major hardship on him and his associate, and can we, as soon as possible, wire (bank transfer) back the $10,800 that was in excess of the purchase amount.
If this is a scam, it is a variation on the usual theme that involves a cashier's check, since this one involves an electronic transfer. And in the check cases they tell you up front that they are sending a check for more than the amount; whereas, in this case he is just saying it was an honest error.
I can't quite figure out how it works to the benefit of the scammer, since the whole $12,000 is in our account.
From what I have read, it could be part of a money-laundering operation where they are not really trying to get any money from us but just using a boat purchase as an excuse to move money around.
But if their $12,000 really is in our account, it puts us in an awkward position. We don't want to send the guy $10,800 unless we are absolutely sure we have the money -- like go to the bank and get the money in our hands and then send the $10,800 (or the whole $12,000, as far as I am concerned), because I can't believe the guy really wants this boat.
But if it turns out that the $12,000 he sent came out of someone else's account because of identity theft, would we be liable sometime in the future to reimburse the $12,000 to the true owner of the money?
On the other hand, if he really is the true owner of the money, we need to give it back to him.
And on the other other hand, if he is a crook using us to launder his money, if we give it back to him, we would be, in effect, aiding and abetting a criminal.
Has anybody else encountered this particular situation?