Online Auction Scams -
Use Caution on Auctions Like Ebay
If you have thought about selling your car over the
Internet, or buying and selling on Ebay, here's a
warning. Both buyers and sellers need to beware. Fake
cashier checks are being used for scams involving
Hereís how the scam works:
- The buyer offers to purchase the product being sold, but at the last
minute makes up an excuse why he needs to write the check for more money
than the cost of the item and asks the seller to wire (Western Union / Money
Gram) the excess money back to the buyer.
- The seller agrees, deposits the check, wires the money and ships the
goods or physically gives them to the buyer.
- A week or so later, the seller's bank tells him the check bounced
because it was a fake, so the seller's bank account now owes the bank for
the amount, AND the police may arrest the seller (for check fraud,
This scam works because most people believe that a cashier's check is as good
as cash. That's clearly not true if it is a counterfeit! And with
today's computer and printer capabilities, almost anyone can make a very
realistic looking fake check. People also don't realize that wired money
is immediate and irretrievable. Once you wore the money gram, the money is GONE!
How can you protect yourself against check scams when selling something
- Call the issuing bank identified on the check, to verify the check is
good and for that amount.
- Donít give the buyer the sold property, whether it is a car, DVD's/CDs
or anything else, until the
check has had time to clear. If the buyer wants it immediately, as for cash
or see your bank for other methods, like a wire transfer that can be
verified more quickly.
Tips for buyers - Avoiding Internet Auction Frauds
Listed below are tips to protect yourself and your family from various forms
of Internet fraud:
- Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and
where he/she is asking to send payment.
- When purchasing products over the Internet, itís best to use your credit
card rather than PayPal or your debit card. That way, if you have any
problems, you have recourse to dispute the charges through your credit-card
company before the payment is actually made.
- Examine the feedback on the seller.
- Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only
information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the
Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
- Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your
obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller's obligations are before you
- Find out what actions the web site/company takes if a problem occurs and
consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
- If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more
difficult if the seller is located outside the US because of the difference
- Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and if there is a
problem with the merchandise is it covered by a warranty or can you exchange
- Find out if shipping and delivery are included in the auction price or
are additional costs so there are no unexpected costs.
- There should be no reason to ever give out your social security
number or drivers license number to the seller.
Also see this page about fake
lottery winnings checks. If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to
report it, please file a complaint
with the U.S. government
Internet Fraud Complaints