Verde Valley AZ (February 25, 2016) – Over the last few weeks, YCSO has received several calls regarding scams related to Craigslist ads. The latest incident involved a Prescott victim who placed an ad for aftermarket car parts. He was eventually contacted by an interested party who agreed to purchase the advertised items. The buyer sent a check via UPS next day air in the amount of $2100 which was $950 over the price originally agreed to by the victim. The check was written on an account identified to a realtor based in Houston, Texas. By email, the victim was instructed to cash the check to cover payment for the parts, keep $100 as profit for ‘running around,’ and then send the balance back to the buyer via Western Union.
The deputy contacted the real estate company listed on the check and they were already aware that fraud suspects forged checks with their name and account information. The company had already filed a report with the local police department and closed the involved account.
The ‘check overpayment scam’ is very common in the world of Craigslist transactions. Sellers should understand that if they deposit fraudulent checks then return any overpayment to the “buyer” before the bank verifies the check is fake, the seller will be responsible for the loss. Generally, banks will NOT cover money losses in these cases. If there is any doubt as to the validity of the check, sellers should wait until their bank has either cleared or rejected the check before completing any transaction. In the meantime, hold onto the merchandise offered for sale.
A comprehensive guide from the Federal Trade Commission on this scam can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0159-fake-checks
Craigslist offers these tips on its website: https://www.craigslist.org/about/scams
Sellers BEWARE! when you are dealing with online customers via Craigslist or similar sites.