COLUMBUS – With the growing amount of trust in personto person online marketplaces like Craigslist, consumers have become increasingly comfortable with online transactions. Today, people are looking for almost anything online. Whether it’s finding a roommate, a vacation home or automobile, a life partner or a rental apartment, the “Craigslist culture” offers no-cost or lowcost services that are quick and convenient.
Better Business Bureau warns that convenience can sometimes come at an unexpectedly high price, particularly for those who turn to free classified sites like Craigslist to purchase an automobile. Despite the media spotlight on the dangers of Craigslist in recent years, it appears that online scammers are still out in full force, preying on unsuspecting consumers.
A Zanesville, woman recently reported to the BBB that after totaling her car in an accident she was on a tight budget and was shopping for a car online. She began an email exchange with “Jenny”, who claimed she was a widow and needed to sell the 2004 Nissan Murano SL which she described “was in excellent condition.” “Jenny”, wanting to protect her from an online scam, recommended they use Google Checkout for the payment who would hold the money until the car was delivered.
The victim received an email from a “Google Checkout” who told her to wire transfer the money through Western Union. After making two separate transfers each in the amount of $1,620, she was asked to wire an additional $1,250 to cover insurance that had lapsed. A Kroger store employee became suspicious and contacted Western Union to report the fraudulent activity.
“Scammers come up with all kinds of convincing stories to get your money, and many of them involve you wiring money,” said Joan Coughlin, BBB Vice President. “It’s like sending cash. The scammers get the money quickly, and you can’t get it back.”
What consumers need to know:
Never wire money to strangers or someone you haven’t met in person, including:
Sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment;
A love interest who asks for money or a favor;
Someone advertising an apartment, automobile or vacation rental online;
A potential employer or someone who says it’s part of your new online job;
Someone who claims to be a relative or friend in dire straits – often in a foreign jail or hospital – and wants to keep it a secret in the family.