Don Sudduth and Lisa Mathews of Red Springs own a pair of boxers, that had a second litter of puppies. Selling them online was such a success the first time, they decided to do it again.
"One was Florida. One went to Germany. One went to Mississippi, Massachusetts. And no problems at all," says Don holding his boxer puppies. Their next customer would come from the UK, or so he said. His name was Andy Pakers. "He told us he was interested in the puppy and wanted to purchase it. He would send us a money order in the amount to cover the shipping and the cost of the puppy," says Don fiance, Lisa.
The check the couple would receive had a Bank of America logo on it and looks very legitimate. But the price of the puppy was $500. The amount of the cashier's check: $3,000. The customer wanted the difference sent back as a wire transfer which could be as much as $2,500. "I took it to the teller and he looked at it like a normal check and he slid it through and looked at his computer and slid it through again and he walked off and came back with a representative. I stood there for a little bit and they came back and wanted to know how I'd gotten that check and I told them over the Internet selling puppies and they told me it was a fraudulent check."
Don and Lisa ended up at the FBI. Although they could not comment specifically on their investigation, 7 On Your Side learned specifically how the scammers rip people off of thousands. "In East Texas across the board, I probably get at least one victim a month of someone that actually loses money," says FBI Agent Peter Galbraith. Galbraith sat down with us saying these con artists are generally from another country targeting Americans and they go to the extreme ripping people off. "They actually have little seminars overseas, and they used to do it in Nigeria, on how to take advantage of the American system."
Galbraith says it's a common scam for buyers to send a cashiers check for hundreds even thousands of dollars more than the selling price. "And we've been taught for years that a cashier's check is as good as cash. But a counterfeit cashier's check is as good as air, it's worthless."
Just like Don and Lisa did, you can always stop the transaction in it's tracks by telling the buyer you've called the FBI. "I have yet to have one of these con men contact me in my office and say 'I heard you're investigating me. I'd like to come in and plea.'"
This counterfeit run-in will not stop Don and Lisa from selling online again but knowing what they know now, the next scam artist will be barking up the wrong tree. "We work hard for what we get. And the little bit we do get I don't want stolen," says Don.
Christine Nelson reporting. firstname.lastname@example.org