April 20, 2020 - Scammers are constantly figuring out a way to take your money and online classified listings are a common target.
With COVID-19 causing financial difficulties, some have found time to sell items they have been meaning to let go. Shelby County Today classifieds are one resource for selling theses items. However, you have to beware of scammers looking to illegally make money regardless of the consequences it brings to the victims.
One common practice scammers make with higher priced classified items is called an overpayment scam. The scammer calls the seller telling them they want the item. They then send them a personal check or cashier's check for an amount for more than the listed price. The buyer/scammer then tells you it was either an overpayment made in error or it is for shipping the item to them. They will ask you to send the money via money order, wire transfer, pre-loaded card back to them or to a third person who they say will be responsible for shipping the item.
If the seller goes through with the transaction, most likely, the seller has just cashed a fake check or a stolen check which is a crime. The scammer is getting the over payment and has distanced themselves from the check cashing which is the most traceable part of the crime... most often you are on camera cashing the check. The scammer disappears and you are left the only one responsible.
Stay safe if selling items.
- Stick with local buyers and sellers and beware of anyone who is out of state/country.
- If a check is sent to you for you to ship the item, call the bank the check is on and verify it is a legal check and funds are available. Never cash it without verifying and never send your item first. Hold the item til the check has cleared the bank.
- If selling or buying a large purchase item such as a car, meet the buyer at the bank. The buyer can withdraw the cash and hand it to the seller or the seller can get a bank check instead before the buyer takes the car.
- Avoid anyone new to you who asks for a wire transfer.
- Meet in a public place and only accept cash. One public place is a police department parking lot. The Tenaha Police Department has even designated a safe exchange parking space specifically for this type of transaction.
Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, has a website for consumer protection concerning common scams. It does mention Counterfeit Cashier's Checks (Overpayment Scam) as well as other scams - https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection/common-scams.