Internet Scams

Internet Scams

Dealer's Edge
March 3, 2003 Vol. 9, No. 8
256 Words Page 8

Online car scam costs seller $$$

Beware of Nigerians with counterfeit bank checks.

For dealers and individuals selling used vehicles on Internet auction services like e-Bay, here's an example scam that's quickly making its way around the country. A New Mexico man wants to sell his old Mercedes through e-Bay. His asking price is $5,700 and he quickly gets an interested buyer. After a series of e-mail communications, the buyer sends a bank cashier's check in the amount of $10,000 and asks the vehicle seller to mail him the $4,300 difference after the check clears.

The seller's bank tells him the funds are available and the seller wires $4,300 to (are you ready?) Lagos, Nigeria. A couple days later the cashier's check is returned as a counterfeit. The seller is out the $4,300 but at least he still had his Mercedes.

New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid said the scam works like this: A buyer in Africa e-mails someone who is selling an item on the Internet, frequently a high-price item like a used car. The buyer says he will pay with a cashier's check drawn on a United States bank and at the last minute says the check, because of some glitch, will be for more than the purchase price. The difference is typically several thousand dollars, and the seller is asked to wire the difference to the buyer after the check clears.

The check, which looks legitimate, clears the bank, the seller wires the money to the buyer; and several days or weeks later, the bank discovers the check was counterfeit and requires the victim to repay the funds.