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Fairmont Information

Sale Ad Alert 03/2008

March 21, 2008 - 11:49 AM

Fairmont Police are advising residents of another twist on a fraudulent check scam that has surfaced more frequently over the last year. Victims of this particular scam are exposed when they post their personal items for sale. The postings could be anywhere, such as on-line shopper pages, EBay or auction sites, auto-trader networks (boats, ATV, snowmobile) and other classified advertisements both printed and on-line.

The scam occurs when the seller is contacted by a suspect about the item for sale. Sometimes, the seller will just receive a check in the mail with instructions how to complete the transaction. The check is always for an amount greater than the asking price of the item for sale. Usually, instructions are included that ask the victim to cash the check, keep the purchase price portion and then wire or send the rest on to a third party. Once deposited or cashed, the check comes back later through banking channels as fraudulent. This often takes many days to detect. The seller becomes responsible for the full amount, including any money wired back to the fraudulent purchaser.

One such report received by the Fairmont Police Department in recent weeks was a complaint of a resident trying to sell a pickup truck for $3,600. The seller received a cashier's check in mail for $4,600 from a bank in Chicago. Along with the check were instructions to cash the check, keep the payment amount, and wire the excess $1,000 for delivery to a person in Ohio. In this circumstance the seller was suspicious and called the bank discovering that the cashier's check was fraudulent prior to deposit.

Another incident had the victim trying to sell a pet on a free internet classified add. The pet was listed for $400.00. The victim was contacted by email and then received a check for $3,500.00. They were instructed to keep $500.00 and wire the $3,000.00 to the person they had arranging the shipping of the pet. The check was counterfeit, but they had already wired the money so they were out $3,000.00. The seller was required to make payment to the bank for the full amount of the counterfeit check.

The Fairmont Police Department urges citizens to be ever cautious when accepting unsolicited offers or checks from a person they do not know. If a resident has doubts about the validity of a check or wire transfer request, please consult with your local bank. Also, understand that a credible bank's name can be duplicated, so it is advisable to work with your own banker to determine the authenticity of checks you receive.