New scam targets online sellers

By Greg Collier

If you sell something online, there are a number of scams that you have to look out for. One of the most common ones is the fake check scam. In this scam, scammers will feign interest in whatever you’re selling before sending you a check for more than the price you were asking. They’ll claim a mistake was made and will ask you to deposit the check and send them the overage amount. It’s typically not until the seller sends back the overage that they find out the check was fake. At this point, the seller becomes responsible for the entire amount of the check, plus any service fees to their bank. Meanwhile, scammers make off with the amount that the seller sent them.

According to a report out of New England, scammers are using a new ploy to try to get online sellers to deposit the scammers’ phony checks. Some scammers are said to be targeting people who are selling high-end items of larger sizes. For example, a couple from Maine were trying to sell living room furniture on Craigslist. The scammers said they would need to hire movers to pick up the furniture. The sellers were sent a cashier’s check and were told to hire the movers themselves using the overage from the check. The movers the scammers told them to use were said to also be in on the scam. That likely means that the movers don’t even exist and are just a part of the scam. Thankfully, the couple did not fall for the scam.

Anytime you’re dealing with an online marketplace, there are a few good rules to follow to avoid being scammed. You should really only deal with people who are local. Scammers will often give excuses as to why they can’t meet in person, such as being from out of state. Only accept cash, as most other forms of payment can be manipulated in such a way that a seller may receive no payment at all. Lastly, whenever it’s feasible, make the transaction at your local police department. Again, while it’s not a guarantee you won’t get scammed, meeting at a police department will go a long way in discouraging not only scammers but other bad actors as well. Many police departments now have designated areas for making such an exchange.