Selling merchandise online has become a multi-million dollar business, but where there's money-to-be-made, there are thieves. One Tulsa business learned that lesson the hard way after receiving a counterfeit cashier's check.
News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright has their advice for others.
Bill Kaufmann has owned ABLE Auto Salvage for the past two years. They deal only in Ford motor parts and business has been good. In addition to walk-in business, they sell engines on-line.
He has a cashiers check that followed the first order for five engines. The person wrote it for $2,500 more than the asking price, saying it would cover freight and shipping and asked Bill to just send the overage back to buyer. "We deposited the cashiers check in order to secure the funds before we sent him our money, then we found out it was a counterfeit."
Bill wasn't out any money, but the bank shut down his accounts, which messed up his credit and took time to fix. Since then, more online orders, followed by more checks and money orders, all fakes. "We got em from Nigeria, Africa, Russia and China. All of these are drawn on American banks, but the purchasers are out of state, out of the country."
The thieves likely buy a $20 money order or cashiers check, then wash off that ink and type in a new amount. They don't just send the checks, they also call. One person called ABLE Auto Salvage four times and when they refused to send the money, he threatened to bring down the FBI and sheriff's office on them. That didn't scare these guys, but they realize it might scare somebody and they don't want to see anyone fall for this scam. â€œThe Internet crooks are getting better and better. They don't always use a gun and a mask anymore."
The old saying, buyer beware, is no longer enough, now, it's also, seller beware.
Tulsa Police say a key tip-off that you're dealing with a scammer is when the check is for more than the asking price. If you're selling online, get the cash in hand, before you send the merchandise.