Portland, ME – Most people looking to buy or sell something use the internet, especially Craigslist.
While the online marketplace makes life easier in some ways, Craigslist has also made it easier for scammers to take advantage of the unsuspecting.
David Thurston decided to sell an extra set of tires on Craigslist for $450.00. He thought it would be easy.
“They were in good shape, seemed like, you know, a good place to find somebody that needs them,” Thurston said.
He quickly got a buyer from another state who said they send a check for the tires and money for shipping.
The check was for $1,780.00, which to me made no sense that you'd pay that much to ship something that was only worth $450.00.
“It was to compensate him for the inconvenience because he was going to have some people come pick up the tires from him… so like another middle man,” Postal Inspector Emily Spera said.
Thurston tried to call and text the buyer regarding the shipping arrangements and go very vague responses.
“That's when I started getting back ‘don't worry about it’ – "They'll take care of it" and just not giving me clear answers,” Thurston said.
“It's not it's just a little bit more to compensate him for his inconvenience – it's for a lot more and when you're looking at funds and that much of difference and they are maybe going to let you keep some of the funds in some situations in other situations they ask you to send some of the remaining funds back,” Spera said. “That's an automatic red flag that that's a scam.”
Conmen are trying to outpace bank’s monitoring systems by getting victims to deposit bad checks and quickly return the difference.
It may be a really long time before it comes back that that check isn't good and by that time the bad guy is long gone.
Victims would be on the hook for the bad check and they money they lost sending to the conmen.
Luckily, Thurston never deposited the check. He knew something was wrong and started researching online.
“When the first thing that pops up on Google says that sounds exactly like what is going on… that's when I contacted the postmaster,” Thurston said.
If you ever think you have received a suspicious money order you can take it to your local post office. They are trained to look for certain marks to confirm validity.