Internet Scams On The Rise

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has a warning for anyone trying to peddle personal property on the Internet: Let the seller beware.

The warning comes after a teen trying to sell a used car on the Internet was very nearly scammed for more than $5,000. So far, the Sheriff’s Office has received reports from at least two other victims who were targeted by the same scam.

Like many Internet-based scams, this one has Nigerian connections. Here’s how this particular scam works: A 17-year-old boy recently listed his car for sale on an Internet site that allows computer users to post on-line advertisements. Shortly after posting the ad, the teen was contacted by e-mail and phone by a man claiming that he wanted to buy the car and have it shipped to Nigeria. The man said he would send the teen a cashier’s check for $9,000 - $3,500 for the car and the remainder to cover shipping expenses.

The teen was instructed to deposit the check into his bank account, keep the $3,500 and then withdraw the remaining balance in cash and send it to a shipping agent in Nigeria by way of a wire transfer. The teen was told that the shipping agent would make arrangements to have the car sent to Nigeria once he received the wire transfer.

The teen and his mother attempted to wire $5,000 to Nigeria, but Western Union representatives suspected the transfer was part of a scam and advised the two to take the money back to their bank. When they did, bank officials tried to verify the check and discovered it was counterfeit.

Scams can be very costly to the victim as well as financial institutions. Once the money changes hands, it’s nearly impossible to get it back. Bottom line: Any checks received as payment for items sold over the Internet should be verified by a local bank before any transfer of items or money takes place.