The Long Beach Police Department Detective Division has received reports of a financial scam that has been occurring recently. The scam occurs in the following way:
1. An unsuspecting seller lists an item of value for sale such as an automobile, expensive watch, etc. on an online site such as EBay, Craig’s List, etc.
2. The seller/victim is contacted via e-mail (generally outside the online auction system) by a person who states that they are interested in purchasing the item.
3. The purported buyer agrees to purchase the item for sale, but they inform the seller/victim that they cannot personally pick up the item and prefer to send a courier to retrieve the item. Often, these “buyers” are from foreign countries, but not always.
4. The “buyer” sends the seller/victim a cashier’s check for the total amount of the sale, PLUS an additional amount to cover the cost of the courier and shipping.
5. The “buyer” asks the seller/victim to immediately deposit the cashier’s check into their personal account and to immediately withdraw the extra money for the courier and shipping.
6. The courier arrives and takes the sale item and the extra funds from the seller.
7. Subsequently, the seller/victim is informed by his/her bank that the cashier’s check is fraudulent and the entire amount of the deposit is removed from the seller/victim’s account.
8. The seller loses the item for sale AND the additional shipping/courier fees delivered to the courier.
This scam works due to the fact that banks are mandated to post checks within 3 days, however the actual clearance time to remote banks is actually longer. The seller/victim’s guard is lowered by receiving additional monies (by lulling the victim by making them believe that the buyer “trusts” them with the additional monies).
Sellers should avoid conducting transactions outside the auction system (EBay, Craig’s List, etc) to reduce the likelihood of fraud, and should NEVER accept overpayments to be forwarded to a third party.
IF A DEAL SEEMS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!
More information may be found on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center website at www.ic3.gov or at the United States Department of Justice Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section website at www.cybercrime.gov.
The Long Beach Police Department may be contacted at (516) 431-1800.