Tyler Police Department is receiving an increasing amount of fraud cases where citizens are being defrauded of sums of money due to Craigslist scams on the internet. Most scams involve one or more of the following:
1) Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country.
2) Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee".
3) Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consummating transaction.
The suspects tend to target the elderly and victims looking for an easy way to make money.
Examples of Scams
1. Someone claims that craigslist will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that craigslist will handle or provide protection for a payment.
These claims are fraudulent, as craigslist does not have any role in any transaction.
Scammer will often send an official looking email that appears to come from craigslist, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, providing payment services -- all such emails are fakes!
2. distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check
you receive an email (examples below) offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment, sight unseen.
cashier's check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for your services.
value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item - scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc)
3. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
Scam "bait" items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items
Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere
Apartment listing may be local, but landlord/owner is "traveling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad
Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, rent is below market, etc
4. distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:
this is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE
sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not
scammer often asks for your name, address, etc for printing on the fake check
deal often seems too good to be true
5. distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.
most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers
for more info, do a Google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"
6. distant seller asks for a partial payment up front, after which he will ship goods
he says he trusts you with the partial payment
he may say he has already shipped the goods
Please follow these helpful tips on how not to become a victim of internet fraud:
DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
******NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM ****** or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.
FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.
Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357), or, contact your local police department