Beware overpayment scams through online classified ads like Craigslist


If you use online classified ads to sell things, be careful.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says there’s been a spike in a particular scam, and all the cases under investigation involve Craigslist.

Special agent Tom Simon says the FBI has taken several calls a week on this particular scheme for the last two years.

He explained what happened to one woman who decided to sell her ring.

“She put it up on Craigslist for $650. She then received a notification from a potential buyer saying, ‘Hey, I’m interested in buying your ring, but I’m not there right now. Can I send you a cashier’s check or money order?'” he said.

This is the start of what the FBI calls an overpayment scams, where fraudsters play the role of buyer and target consumers selling a product or service.

“Even though she’s selling the ring for $650, she receives a cashier’s check in the mail for $2,000,” Simon said.

The buyer asked her to deposit it into her bank account and then wire him the difference. She got suspicious and called the FBI, who told her to play along while they monitor it.

“As soon as she deposits the money and withdraws her own money in a wire transfer, a couple days later, her bank will be notified that is worthless item she has deposited,” Simon said.

The buyer theoretically loses the money, though in this case, the woman lost neither her ring or her cash.

Simon says Craigslist is great, but best used for local, hand-to-hand transactions.

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