Cautious East Texan Avoids International Scam

An East Texan says he was the target of an international scam, and he wants others to be on watch. George Robertson lives in Athens. His hobby... refurbishing old pinball machines. After putting one of them up for sale on the internet, he was nearly swindled out of thousands of dollars in a scam similar to one that has victimized many all over the nation.

$2,200 was George's asking price for this pin. Last month, someone, somewhere, gave him a call.

"He was going to send me $5,500, and that kind of alerted me a little bit. What am I going to do with the extra money, and he said, you're just going to wire it to me," he says.

It's a game that has crossed borders. E-mail after e-mail raised his suspicions about who wanted the machine. George had nearly given up on a check arriving, until FedEx arrived Thursday.

"[The check] was a Korean bank, he said he was from the UK, and an e-mail said 'send it to'"

It didn't make sense. On one of his favorite sites. Came this warning: "The thieves will try to get you to wire them a refund on the overpayment of cashier's check."

It was a cashier's check that was bogus. The printed check number at the top doesn't match the bottom. The remitter's name is Peter Oduchukwu, the check supposedly from a Davis Leonard, George thought he was dealing with people named Christina and Edward. It didn't add up.

"The guy called yesterday, and I talked to him and he threatened me if I didn't cash the check, and I said I'd call the FBI. George did one better.

"When I told him that I contacted the Secret Service, the conversation ended and I never heard from him again."

The Feds will be collecting all this for evidence, as George gets on to finding a real buyer.

"I'm going to try to sell the pinball machine, but I'm going to be very careful who I deal with."

Just Friday afternoon, George traced the envelope with the check. It originated in the African country of Nigeria, though it was supposedly sent from Baltimore. Over the past few years, many online scams have been based in Nigeria.