I know this is a departure from my previous posts but I feel it’s important to educate my readers on the scams that are operating freely without any control. Since my Mom’s demise I have been selling her antiques locally to buyers on Craigs’ List. So far I can usually spot the spam and avoid it but recently I almost fell for a new scam. A prospective buyer sent his cell number and asked me to notify him if the furniture was still for sale. I texted that it was and he said he wanted to buy it for 50.00 more than the asking price which was red flag number one. Then, he said he would overnight a cashiers check for the cost of the furniture plus the fee for the movers. He asked me to cash the check when I received it and pay the movers in cash which was red flag number two. The check arrived and I texted him that I’d received it and I deposited it in my bank instead of cashing it. I stated that when it cleared I would withdraw the cash for the movers. Well, I was uneasy about the name of the buyer because I couldn’t find him on LinkedIn or Facebook or Google. He lives several states away and was paying three times what the furniture was worth to move it. So I took a picture of the check and deposited it in person, asking the teller if it was a certified check or cashiers check because it was drawn on the bank account of a city. It was not a certified check, cashiers check or personal check which was red flag number three. I kept asking family members if they thought it was a scam and my daughter suggested that I call the bank who issued the check. All they could tell me was that the amount printed on the check was not in the bank account. So next I called the city who owned the account and they said that the account had been closed after it was hacked. Meanwhile the buyer kept texting me, wanting to know if I had received the check. I told him I had and that the funds were available. He asked when the movers could pick up the furniture and where. I asked if they could pick it up in two days time and he said “yes”. I did not tell him the address where the movers would meet me for pick up.
So, this is what I did. I called my bank and had them put a hold on the funds and the check. Then I called the police because if these guys were the movers we could catch them red-handed. However, the policeman enlightened me that this happens all the time and the “movers” are usually some clueless junkies who want to make 50 bucks and don’t know the real identity of the scammers. He suggested I text the buyer, letting him know that I’d informed the police and that would probably be the end of it. Instead, when the buyer contacted me again and asked if the furniture was at the mailing address that I had given him I said “No” and blocked any further contact on my phone. Let him think that I have the money in my account and I’m keeping him from picking up his furniture and pocketing the cash.
If I had been thinking clearly I could have sent the movers a false address in the middle of nowhere or even better, sent them to the road that leads to a local high security facility with security cameras that take your picture. Unfortunately I did neither and they will live to scam another day. I wish there was some way to stop them but this seems to be the perfect crime. Hopefully, talking about the various schemes will keep others from falling for them. Just remember if you think it’s not legit, check out the people you are dealing with and their bank accounts.