7On your side: Thwarting scammers - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Thwarting scammers

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A Welsh woman narrowly escaped being the victim of a scam that would have set her back nearly $2,000. It all started with her wanting to sell an antique heater.

Roxie Menard decided she wanted to sell the old, antique gas heater. Not being tech savvy, she decided to accept help from a friend in Tennessee who offered to advertise it on Craig's List and Ebay.

"I've never done it before, so I took a picture of the item and texted it to a friend of mine," she said.

She said they found someone, who claimed to be a buyer, with whom she began exchanging text messages.

Roxie was only asking $300 for the heater, but the check she received via Fed Ex was more. It was $1950.

"When I got the check it was way more than I was supposed to have and she said what I was going to do is cash the check, take $1500 of this, go to Western Union and send the movers the $1,500 Western Union," said Roxie.
 
Roxie was on the verge of sending the money via Western Union when an alert cashier  at Market Basket in Welsh told her it was a scam.

"She said, 'Well why did they send you the money to send to the shippers?' I said, 'I don't know. I've never done this before. I just figured this is what you have to do.' And she got on the phone with her boss and her boss said, 'No, it's a fraud.' So, I said, 'Thank you very much.' I took my money, went back to the bank and got the check before it bounced, I took the check back," said Menard.

As well, Roxie later noticed the check is drawn on a Georgia bank while the Fed Ex receipt shows a return address in California.

Carmen Million with the Better Business Bureau says there were several red flags.

"First, it doesn't make sense for a buyer to offer a much bigger sum than the seller is asking. The check is a substantial amount over the $300 the consumer is asking for and then they're asking them to wire a percentage back. Those are all warning signs.  You should never have to wire money or send money back for an item they're supposed to be paying for. And course you can do some checking on what it actually costs to ship something. This particular item, even as an antique, it's not going to take $1500 to ship it," said Million. 

As for Roxie, she's learned from her close call.

"If they send you a check in the mail, it's a fraud, it's a scam.  Never cash it. The check would have bounced I would have had to pay the $1950 back," said Menard.

Roxie plans to look for a local buyer for her antique heater. 

A complete list of the BBB tips for buying and selling on line follows this story.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

BBB Warns of Craigslist Scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extra careful when buying and selling products on Craigslist.

If someone sends you a check for more than what you are selling your product for, be careful - often times they will ask the seller to send a check back for the difference.

Then the scammer's check will bounce and you will be out your money and your product.

Carmen Million, BBB President, states that another scenario used is: "People stating that they are being deployed to a foreign country and they need to sell an item right away, which is why they are asking an unbelievably low price. This should be another red flag, especially when the price is substantially lower than normal, said Million.

BBB and Craigslist are offering the following tips for preventing scammers from taking advantage of you:

DEAL with local people you can meet in person - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
NEVER wire funds via Western union, by money gram or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
FAKE cashier checks & money orders are common and banks will cash them, but will 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 personal financial information (bank account number, Social Security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
When in doubt, check it out! Call your BBB at 478-6253

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