7 On Your Side: Check Scam Targets Craig's List, Ebay Sellers
"It is a solid oak entertainment center, and it has glass shelves and a long door for videos," says Edie Landinger of Longview describing her entertainment center.
She's selling it on the website Craig's List for $300. Within the first week, she received this suspicious email.
A man claiming he'll buy it but his secretary accidentally made the check out for $3,300. He asked her to mail back the difference.
"This is a scam. It was very slick the way he did it. But there were too many red flags," says Edie.
She didn't fall for it, but Jill Parker did after receiving a check for $25,000.
"I was to deduct what he owed me for the first months rent and the security deposit and then I was to wire the balance back to his agent, who was handling his furnishing," Jill explains.
She used Craig's List to rent an apartment she owned in Chicago.
And after wiring $21,000 back to the potential renter in London, the bank informed her the check was no good and had been returned unpaid.
And she, not the bank, was out the money.
"We felt terrible to find out that we had been victimized. You feel very vulnerable," says Jill.
Tens of thousands of Americans are asking the same questions, many of them targeted on line through Craig's List and Ebay.
"They send you a check and they over pay, and then they ask you to refund the difference and so it's a very quick transaction," says Postmaster General Jack Potter.
U.S. Postal Service officials say they have seized more than two billion dollars worth of high quality counterfeit checks, coming from Nigeria, England, the Netherlands and Canada.
But many more phonies are getting through.
"Under federal law banks are required to make money available according to a certain schedule. Certain funds, for example, have to be available on the day after deposit. And the fraudsters are taking advantage of that rule," says Nedda Feddis, senior federal counsel for the American Bankers Association.
As for Edie, she's relieved she saw the warning signs and will not be out thousands of dollars.
"That would hurt, that would definitely hurt," says Edie.
She plans on removing her ad from Craig's List, and would rather be stuck with the furniture than with a big bill from the bank.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a campaign to protect you and your loved ones from being victimized by these scams. Click here to learn more through a website they have created.
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