Scam artist may be using classified ads
September 4, 2003
A man who plays with people’s sentimentality about things they’ve lost has used a good Samaritan act to rip people off, possibly using the classified pages from local newspapers.
Aspen Police Officer Roderick O’Connor said a Dallas resident who visited Aspen in mid-July told police she lost $800 to the scam artist when she thought he had a necklace she lost during her trip.
O’Connor said the woman lost a diamond and platinum cross that was worth $7,000. She put a lost and found ad in one of the local papers when she returned to Dallas.
The woman told police she received a call from a man who said he had read her ad and thought he had the necklace. He sad he was a “trucker from Illinois” and had been driving through Colorado when he bought the necklace from a man at a truck stop for $300. He said he planned on giving it to his wife.
She said she’d give him $1,000 for the necklace, but the man said he only wanted $800. The woman used a “MoneyGram” service to wire the man the money, but never received her necklace.
O’Connor said since classified ads that run in both the Times and the Daily News are accessible online, there is no way of knowing where the scam artist is operating from. Wiring services like MoneyGram and Western Union have strict confidentiality agreements.
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“It’s important for people to remember that when you put an ad in the paper, the phone call you get may be a scam, especially if the person won’t give you any information,” O’Connor said. “You need to be careful, and confirm the identity of the person you’re sending money to. If it’s legit they’ll give up something about themselves.”
O’Connor said this particular scam artist calls collect and “comes off like a good guy” on the phone when he calls.
The woman who reported the incident told police a friend of hers put a phony classified in one of the local papers about an expensive ring she had lost, and also received a collect call from a “trucker from Illinois” who claimed he had her ring when she described it to him.
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]