How to Spot a Scam

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Say No to checks and money orders

As scam artists continue to troll Craigslist many people are subjected to fraud on a daily basis. If you receive an email from someone who insists upon sending a check or money order, a red flag should go up immediately. In almost every case this favored type of purchase is a scam and should be avoided at all costs.

For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with this classic scam, here is a break down of how it works.

Step 1: The buyer initiates contact with the seller and insists upon sending a check or money order.

Step 2: Once the check or money arrives it will mostly likely be significantly more than the seller's asking price.

Step 3: When the seller deposits the check/money order it clear initially. This may go undetected by the bank for a number of days. The seller may think the check was legitimate and may end up spending funds that do not exist. Once the bank finds the error/fake check or money order, THE SELLER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISSING FUNDS!

Step 4: The Buyer requests that the extra money be wired via western union, money gram, or possibly even bank wire. Now we are at the heart of this scam. At this point, you must ask yourself who in their right mind would trust a total stranger to wire them "extra money?" Sadly many people fall victim to this tactic with little to no recourse. Remember once you wire/send money via Money Gram its gone forever.

IMPORTANT TIPS: Be very wary of buyers who claim they have a security/shipping/moving company that will stop by and pick the item up. This is a classic ploy used by Nigerian scam artists who will make up any excuse to not give their real mailing address. The buyer may even use false pressure tactics to lure the seller into wiring money to the shipping company or to the buyer faster. DO NOT BE ANOTHER VICTIM! EXPOSE THESE CRIMINALS AND THEIR SHADY OPERATIONS!!

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