RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Exercise caution when selling anything on line and know the warning signs that a thief is feeling you out, to snag you in a scam. 12 On Your Side has one woman's story which serves as a good example for the rest of us.
The victim owes her bank $7,000. She got caught up in a check scam after posting a car for sale on vehix dot com. You must remember the person you're exchanging e-mails with, is not your friend.
"I trusted the person and got burned. So, I feel really stupid about it," said Marlena Patterson.
Marlena put a picture of her Passat on vehix.com and soon she and a fake buyer were exchanging e-mails. He sent her a check for $6,000, more than the one thousand dollar sale price supposedly to pay a carrier to pick up the car.
"When I got the check the business was legit. I looked it up on the web. The carrier co. was legit," Marlena said.
All bogus information. Even the crook's emotional plea -- that convinced Marlena to cash the $7,000 check and wire the money to a scammer, in Nigeria.
"He told me he was hearing impaired and the only way he could communicate was thru emails," said Marlena.
The scammer wrote: "I would like you to feel what I'm going thru right now; my wife is at a point of death. They need to operate... Please I need this money to pay my wife's medical bill."
Vehix doc com has a disclaimer on its website warning users how not to fall victim, it takes no responsibility and Bank of America, Marlena's bank, is holding her responsible.
"I don't have $7,000 lying around to cover a check. It's been rough so I had to collect on a lot of debts, from people, last minute, just to make mortgage and bills," she said.
Marlena filed a police report, but, it's not likely she'll get her money back. The warning signs were in the e-mail: grammatical errors and a check for more than the sale price. Never wire money to a stranger, be wary of buyers from another country, and know that banks ultimately hold the customer responsible for checks they deposit.(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.