BBB warns of fradulent Craigslist scheme

BBB warns of fradulent Craigslist scheme


by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 19 at 10:48 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s the biggest scam going -- overpayment. 

And Jodi Winterton believes she almost fell for it.  The NBC Charlotte engineer knew something was wrong when she  received a response  too good to be true while selling on Craigslist. 

Winterton had a Jeep Wrangler soft top she wanted to sell. She got several responses, but one stood out as troubling.

She read NBC Charlotte the email:  “‘I’d like to get it,’ the response said.   Will send you a check FedEx the next day.  I will give you an extra $100 to hold it.’”

Winterton says she grew more suspicious when  the buyer said he didn’t even want to see it.

"I  would really have liked to come for the viewing, but due to my work, it might not be possible,” he wrote.

"Overpayment scam is the most popular scam going on in the world right now,” said the Better Business Bureau’s Tom Bartholomy.

Bartholomy found 130 complaints nationwide about Craigslist on the day NBC Charlotte spoke to him about this story. 

He explained the overpayment scam where buyers appear to sweeten the deal as long as you send them the item fast. 

They pay you for your item, and add extra money to the deal in a Cashier’s Check or Money order, but the checks don’t clear. 

When the seller realizes he got scammed, it’s too late.  The seller is left without his item and now owes the bank money for the bad check.

"It can be a very scary place to do business.  You can lose money, items, you can lose your identity all in a single transaction,” he says.

Craigslist offers warnings, but is not held responsible for any transactions, Bartholomy says. 

Still, consumers can protect themselves by dealing locally and paying and selling in cash only.  According to Craigslist, if you do that, you can avoid 99 percent of all scam attempts.

Craigliist also advises to never wire funds or give out any financial  information and never submit to credit checks or background checks for a job or housing until you’ve met the landlord or agent in person.