Watch out for online scams

By Peg Clevenger, USAG Vicenza security manager

There have been a lot of scams going out to classified ad pages lately. If someone sends you an email, make sure
to get their phone number and where they live, give them a call and find out something about them. If they say they
have arranged for transportation, will send you a certified check or money order and have their shipper pick it up,
guess what, it’s a scam.

Use discretion in posting a classified advertisement and concluding the sale of your listing. Not all potential buyers are reputable or honest. Be aware for email responses that appear fraudulent. Look for misspellings, lengthy excuses why the person can’t meet you in person and if they want to pay with unusual methods. If you think an email response to your ad is fraudulent, do not respond.

If you post a classified ad, you may receive fraudulent responses. While receipt of these responses is unavoidable,
you can protect yourself by following a few simple, common sense rules:
- Deal locally with customers you meet in person
- Deal only with cash
- Never agree to sell an item for more than the purchase price and refund the overpayment to the seller
- Never agree to purchase an item with partial payment
- Never agree to cash a check for a stranger
- Never wire funds – most such requests are fraudulent
- Never send money, even if you receive a check. Fake cashiers checks and money orders are common and banks
will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered up to four weeks later.
- Never, never, never give out your financial information (bank account number, social security number).

Only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction. This is a very slippery scam and relatively new. The email will sound like a genuine reply to your ad. The tip-off is that the scammer will never actually refer to the item for sale by name. It will always be referred to as the “item” or other term.

Another red flag to watch for is where an advertisement is referred to as an “advert.” If you reply to this ad you will probably be asked to cash a cashier’s check plus shipping. It will ask you to forward the “shipping” to a shipping agent.

Below are three examples of email scams:
1. Hello seller, I saw your ad and I’m interested in purchasing your item. I will want you to get back to me with
the following information if it is still available: 1. Its present condition 2. An updated pics {if any} 3. Your last offer. I will make payment with a money order or check if it is still available. Hope to hear from you in earnest. regards, Frank.
2. I am highly interested in making purchase of this your item to my client. so kindly let me know the present condition of the item, and the final price of it so that we can get this transaction proceed and finalized ok, And again is Paypal and check is the mode of payment just let me know if you are willing to sell to me and moreover first get back to me directly e-mail.
3. Hello Seller, I came across your ads during my searching at where it was posted, i’ll like you to understand that i’ve so much to interest buy your item if still available,i’ll like to know the following details. 1. The present condition. 2. Why you want to sell it? 3. Exact and final price. 4. Send more pictures 5. Let me know the pickup arrangement though I have a reliable shipper who use to take care of my shipment that can come for the pickup. 6. Payment by bank cashier’s check will be fine for me.

Classified ads are a great way to pick up good deals but be cautious in your shopping on-line. For information about these tips or any of security issues, call 634-8998.

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