Internet scam warning issued

Friday, July 23rd 2004, 10:52 am
By: News On 6

A nationwide scam alert. It comes from the NCIC, the National Crime Information Center. It warns police departments that cons are stealing thousands of dollars from American citizens.

As News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains, anyone thinking about selling a car online can't afford to miss this warning.

Julia Moore wanted to sell her 1996 Lexus, so she posted it online for a price of $15,000 and soon, got a response. "I got an email a few days later that said I love your car, I want it, I'll give you the asking price. Details for pick up will follow in the next email." The next email explained that the car would be shipped to Canada, so they'd be sending her a cashier's check for $25,000. They said the extra $10,000 was needed to pay to ship the car to Canada, but, the money must be wired to them immediately.

As soon as she received the check, she headed to the bank. "I take it to the bank and she says this check was printed on a computer, that's not our logo." Julia is one of the lucky ones. Usually, a person deposits the check and wires the money, only to find out later, the check bounced.

Often their car has already been picked up, so the victim is out the money and the car. Tulsa Police fraud unit Sgt Tony Celino: "If you get a check for more than the asking price, you know it's a scam.”

These scams all originate from Nigeria, even though they claimed the car was going to Canada and even though the check arrived Fed-Ex from Maryland, it's Nigeria. Prosecuting these car con artists is nearly impossible. Even when our government tries, they don't get any cooperation from that government. So, our only hope is to protect ourselves.

Fraud detectives say if you get a check for more than the asking price and if the buyer is rushing you to wire them the money, don't fall for it.

Remember, cashiers checks can be fake, like in this case or the person can stop payment on it, so, and it’s not a guarantee of cash in hand.