How to spot fake inquiries & bad checks. Also knows as the 419 or Nigerian scam.

If you have been in this business any length of time, you know that getting fake inquires & fake checks are a part of this business. If you want additional info on check scams check out:: - -

Fortunately the bad checks & inquires that are fake are usually easy to spot with some experience.

The typical fake inquiry will be very broken English & give you lots of details a person booking travel would not provide. Sometimes it's hard to tell real from fake inquiries. So you have to respond to their questions.

The scammer replies back telling you they can only send a personal check or cashiers check and want to have some extra spending money so they will send the check with several thousand extra dollars more then the rent.

They will fed ex the check & need you to cash it and take your amount plus a little extra for your trouble and wire the rest back the same day you cash it. Then a week later sometimes even 30 days or longer later you get a call form your bank saying the check was a fake & you are now out all that money plus all the bank fees & possibly an overdrawn bank account. So now your credit is dinged also.

What are you to do?

Anytime you get something like that I recommend you tell them no. Ask for a check in the amount of the rental only. Make sure time is on your side. Require all security deposits and total rental costs be paid a minimum of 30 days before check in so checks have time to clear. Any last minute booking should be done with a credit card or preferably cash only.

What about people you think are legitimate paying by check.

Before I even think of depositing a check into my bank account, I will call the issuing bank & verify funds are there & available. Don't just use the phone number on the check. Scammers are known to print up there own checks using there own phone number and pretend to verify funds.

Google the bank name & find the customer support phone number. Call that number and give them the check details.

Google the bank routing numbers & verify that they match up to the bank name on the check.

Make sure the name on the check matches your renter’s name.

For the advanced folks that are fed up with scammers

So you’re sick of scammers wasting your time. Why not have a little fun at their expense. Tell them go ahead and send the check. Make them pay the 25 bucks it takes to fed ex you the check. Then tell them it never came, please send another. Tell them your car is out of gas please wire me funds to fill up my tank. Etc. Etc.

 If you suspect fraud please contact:

  • FTC toll free hotline: 877-382-4357
  • FTC online complaint form (
  • Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (
  • Non-emergency number for your local police department.