Beware of Fraud - Guidelines to Avoid Scammers
Here are some important things to keep in mind
- Deal locally, face-to-face - this will help avoid 99% of scam attempts.
- Never Wire Funds - (e.g. Western Union, MoneyGram, or any wire service) Anyone that asks you to is a scammer.
- Beware of fake cashier's checks & money orders - banks will hold you responsible when the fake is revealed.
- Never give out financial information - (bank account, social security, PayPal, etc.)
- Avoid dealings involving shipping and escrow services - know that only a scammer will guarantee your transaction.
Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
- Internet Fraud Compliant Center
- FTC Video: How to report scams to the FTC
- FTC complaint form and hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- The State's Attorney General
If you are defrauded by someone you met in person, contact your local police department.
Most scams involve one or more of the following.
- Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country.
- Western Union, MoneyGram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction.
Examples of Scams
1. Someone claims your transaction is guaranteed, that a buyer/seller is officially certified, OR that a third party of any kind will handle or provide protection for a payment:
- These claims are fraudulent as transactions are between users only.
- The scammer will often send an official looking (but fake) email that appears to come from KELOLAND Automall or another third party, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, or pretending to handle payments.
2. Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check:
- You receive an email (examples below) offering to buy your item, pay for your services in advance, or rent your apartment, sight unseen and without meeting you in person.
- A cashier's check is offered for your sale item as a deposit for an apartment or for your services.
- Value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item—scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service.
- Banks will cash fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, sometimes including criminal prosecution.
- Scams often pretend to involve a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate, etc.).
3. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
- Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, or rent is below market, etc.
- Scam "bait" items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, other high value items.
- Scammer may (falsely) claim a confirmation code from you is needed before he can withdraw your money.
- Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, UK, Netherlands—but could be anywhere.
- Rental may be local, but owner is "travelling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money abroad.
- Scammer may pretends to be deaf, mute, or unable to speak by phone (scammers prefer to operate by email).
4. Distant person offers to send you a cashier's check or money order and then have you wire money:
- This is ALWAYS a scam in our experience — the cashier's check is FAKE.
- Sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not.
- Scammer often asks for your name, address, etc. for printing on the fake check.
- Deal often seems too good to be true.
5. Distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service:
- Most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT and operated by scammers.
- For more info. do a google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"
6. Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods:
- He says he trusts you with the partial payment.
- He may say he has already shipped the goods.
- Deal often sounds too good to be true.
7. Foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds:
- Foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly.
- You are typically offered a percentage of payments received.
- This kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email.