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.