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January 22, 2008
SMALL TOWN BUSINESS
Area business woman alerted to Craigslist scam before it was too late
SPRING VALLEY, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Scams in "the Valley" are not only possible and probable, but have been documented by an area resident and businesswoman, Becky Goodsell, who became aware of a scam while advertising on Craigslist.
Her advertising of a "Range for Sale $999" began a correspondence with "jacky scott" who expressed interest in purchasing the appliance.
The e-mails from "jacky scott" to Goodsell, which continued from Nov. 12 to Nov. 28, 2007, exhibit an incomplete command of English grammar - incorrect order, misspellings, and incomplete sentences were red flags alerting Goodsell and her co-worker, Linda Smith, to proceed with caution.
"Although we were suspicious about this, we were curious just what kind of a scam it might be," remarks Goodsell.
One e-mail reads: "Hello, thanks for your responce, am very interesed in buying the item, i reside in CA San Jose but due to the nature of my work i will not be able to come to down your address, my phone is faulty and i dont call at the pay phone, to conclude our transaction, i beleive that am dealing with an honest person and the rigth owner of the item, if there is no problem i will contact my client, he will make payment on my behalf, it will be inform of certified check . in which the the shipper fees will be added if you cash the check you will deduct your money and wire the excess fund to the shipper."
It wasn't long before this "jacky scott" sent a $3,000 certified check to Goodsell, who in turn contacted the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office and handed the check over to law enforcement.
"I've always been satisfied with Craigslist and they have some wonderful information on their site about scams," says Goodsell. "Still it seems so far removed from Spring Valley. I just want people to know that we all need to beware of scammers because it could happen to anyone."
The best advice to follow is to pay attention to all your business transactions and whenever possible buy locally because "face to face" business dealings have a lower risk of having problems.
"Be careful!" reiterates Smith. "Pay attention to your checking accounts and your credit card bills, and know that it can take up to a month for a certified check to go through the bank."
Being informed and alert to possible scams are the best protection against becoming one mentioned in the list of victims of scam activity. In the Jan. 13, 2008, edition of the Star Tribune an article entitled, "The terrible reach of online scams" by Jon Tevlin, stated, "Americans are now taken for more than $5 billion per year in various scams, according to Federal Trade Commission estimates. And while the prevalence of scams is growing as criminals take advantage of increasingly sophisticated technology, prosecutions are few and far between."
"Consumer Fraud Reporting" states the following to report a scam:
? "You can report spams and scams that are coming from specific e-mail accounts to the providers. For example, if a scammer is using a Hotmail account to send scams or spams or receive replies, you can report it to Hotmail. Be sure to forward the e-mail and copy its headers into the e-mail you send to the provider. That helps them to trace the source.
? Write to the Federal Trade Commission: email@example.com - copy them on the e-mail and explain what has occurred since.
? U.S. Secret Service: If you ever receive an e-mail or fax from someone you do not know requesting your assistance in a financial transaction, such as the transfer of a large sum of money into an account, or claiming you are the next of kin to a wealthy person who has died, or the winner of some obscure lottery and suffered a significant financial loss related to the advance fee fraud (so-called "Nigerian scam"), contact your local Secret Service field office. Forward the e-mail to the U.S. Secret Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax at (202) 406-5031. The Secret Service retains these messages for future investigations.
Local Secret Service office phone numbers are available in the Field Office Directory and may also be found on the inside cover of your local telephone directory. Any investigation regarding this type of fraud will be conducted on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the local Secret Service and U.S. Attorney's Office.
If you have given money to the scammers, or believe a crime has been committed, contact your state Attorney General.
Fraudulent activity comes in so many forms. Wikipedia defines mail fraud as "any scheme that attempts to unlawfully obtain money or valuables in which the postal system is used at any point in the commission of a criminal offense."
Internet fraud and online auction fraud are mentioned among the nine categories under mail fraud because the postal service is used to send checks or money orders.
Goodsell and Smith are hoping by exposing this scam that area residents will be more careful when purchasing products or giving to charitable causes.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," stated Goodsell.
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