Craigslist Check Scam

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A viewer calls 12 after seeing a 12 On Your Side Alert about a check scam circulating in the area. She was trying to sell a computer on Craigslist and suspected someone was trying to scam her using a similar check scam.

All Marilyn De Block wanted to do was get rid of a computer to make some extra cash. The asking price was 100 bucks. She posted an ad on Craigslist. What she thought would be a simple transaction, led to her almost been scammed and losing hundreds of dollars. She says, "This was my very first time using Craigslist to sell anything." Almost immediately she got a response.

The would-be buyer said he had the money but wasn't in town. He told her he would send a check and then someone would pick up the computer later. Once the check arrived, she was told to follow very direct instructions. "Go to my bank and cash it, take an extra 50 dollars for my trouble and contact his shipper. Once I got the check taken care of, he would notify the shipper to come and pick up the computer," De Block told us.

De Block says the emails stopped for a while and right when she was ready to search for another buyer, a FedEx package came. A big check was inside. She says it was in the amount of $1,655. Red flags went up. The buyer mentioned there would be extra money but she wasn't expecting this.

She says, "Who would pay 16-hundred dollars for something I am selling for 100 dollars, that's a little odd."  Still she thought, maybe there was a chance the transaction was legit. That's until her husband saw a commercial on NBC 12 for an On Your Side Alert about fake checks circulating in the area.

When she saw our story, she knew she was involved in a scam. She also had no idea the bank would hold her responsible if she cashed the check. She says, "Not until I saw your show from that other gentleman. I really didn't know that, so that was good. I set my timer on my stove just so I wouldn't miss that."

On its website, Craigslist warns that these type of check scams are common. It offers tips, like only deal with people you can meet in person and never wire money.  De Block called the company listed on the check, it wasn't surprised. She says, "The first thing the lady said to me was it is a phony check." The company says it has gotten similar calls and says each caller says they either posted an ad on eBay or Craigslist. De block hopes her story is a warning to others.

She still wants to sell the computer but says she will increase the price.  Despite her experience, she still plans on using Craigslist but says she will be more alert. For more tips, check out the links below.