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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Certified Check Scam

I have some tech stuff posted on Craig’s List to sell for a client. I haven’t gotten a lot of response but 40 % of the responses offered to buy the equipment at my asking price. Now what is most interesting is that a full 50% of the offers to buy my equipment for asking price were totally fraudulent. Think about that, 50% bogus offers. Overall the bogus offers were 20% of my total responses.

Here was their deal. “Wow, want to buy your stuff immediately, I’ll send you a check for $4,000.00, you deduct $3,000.00 for your equipment and give the remaining $1,000.00 to my shipper when he picks up the equipment.” The explanation is that way he doesn’t have to do two certified checks, he can just do one and I pay the shipper. Doesn’t sound too bad and he is paying the full asking price. Here’s the kicker, the certified check will bounce. Guaranteed, it will bounce. I thought everyone knew about this scam but after explaining it to my client, he still didn’t see the problem. I called my local chief of police and he didn’t feel it was feasible to pursue the issue. I wanted to set up a sting but he noted that realistically tracking the author of the email would be difficult and statistically the author was most likely be outside of the U.S.

This is a common internet related scam that most of you who are reading this are already familiar with. My surprise was the number of people who I mentioned this to who had never heard of the scam. I related the story to a tech support guy whose surprise was that someone would trust me to not keep their cashiers check and run. He had not read one thing on the web about how many of these “cashier’s” checks are fraudulent. So in the unlikely case that you are not familiar with this scam, remember is something is too good to be true, it probably is not true.

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