Locals duped in eBay scam
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A scam to defraud eBay users has apparently claimed several local victims, according to an Aspen bank executive who is warning users of the online marketplace to use their heads.
Jacque Schoon, branch manager at Wells Fargo Bank in Aspen, said she has seen three cases of eBay fraud, though the bank managed to thwart one of them last week.
What apparently occurs, according to Schoon, is local individuals who are selling items on eBay receive a bank check or cashier’s check for more than the agreed-upon purchase price for the merchandise they’re selling with the understanding that they will wire the buyer the difference.
The buyer tells the seller some cockamamie story ” that he can only get one check a month from his bank, for example ” so he’s going to have it issued for more than the amount of the transaction and trust the seller to wire back the difference. Of course, the bank check or cashier’s check deposited in the seller’s account turns out to be counterfeit; meanwhile the seller has already wired cash to the buyer, according to Schoon.
Sometimes, the seller is out both cash and the merchandise, which has been shipped to the buyer before the fraud is discovered.
Last week, a man who received a $3,800 cashier’s check from Alaska for $1,200 worth of items he sold on eBay was preparing to wire back the difference when Wells Fargo intervened, Schoon said. The bank had determined in time that the check was counterfeit.
“If you are doing a transaction on eBay and someone wants you to wire money back, don’t do it,” she advised.
In each case Schoon has seen, the wired money is headed somewhere outside the United States. One individual was duped out of a little more than $5,000, although the bank may wind up taking the loss if the victim can’t cover it.
“I’m sure they [scam artists] are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars if it’s happening here,” she said. “I can’t believe people are falling for it.”
If you think about the deal, it makes no sense, Schoon noted. There’s no logic in sending a seller more money than he’s due and trusting the seller to refund the difference unless the initial payment is worthless in the first place.
The eBay marketplace is sort of an online auction house, where virtually everything imaginable is posted for sale and potential buyers submit bids to purchase items. According to its third-quarter financial report, eBay saw gross sales of $5.8 billion worldwide through September of this year.
Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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