Consumer Alert: Aurora Police Warn of Online Fake-Check Scam

Consumer Alert: Aurora Police Warn of Online Fake-Check Scam

The Aurora Police Department is issuing a scam alert regarding subjects using fake checks to purchase items offered for sale using the various online sales applications such as OfferUp, Craigslist and Marketplace.

In a fake check scam, a person who you don’t know offers to buy items that you are selling online.

The buyer then sends you money via the mail and asks you to deposit the check, usually for grossly more than you are owed and then request that you wire some of the money back to that person.

Here’s how the scam has worked in the recent reports taken by the Aurora Police Department:

The buyer offers to purchase the product being sold and states that they live out of state and will send the seller a check through the mail. When the check arrives, it is for more money than the cost of the item.

The buyer will state that the check was sent in error and tells the buyer to keep an extra $100 to $200 for themselves and requests that the seller wire — via Western Union or Money Gram, for example — the excess money back to the buyer.

The seller agrees, deposits the check, wires the money and ships the goods to the buyer.

A week or so later, the seller’s bank tells them that the check has bounced because it was a fake, so the seller’s bank account now owes the bank for the amount.

“This scam works because most people believe that a cashier’s check is as good as cash and the seller is usually happy because they think they are getting even more money than they were selling their goods for,” said Paris Lewbel, public information officer for the Aurora Police Department. “With today’s computer and printer capabilities, almost anyone can make a very realistic looking fake check.”

How To Protect Against Check Scams

Do not accept checks from a buyer if possible. Deal with cash only.

If you do accept a check, call the issuing bank on the check to verify that the check is good for the amount that it was issued for.

Do not give the buyer the property you are selling until the check has a time to clear. If the buyer wants the items immediately, ask for cash. Information was provided by the ConsumerFraudReporting.org.

If you are a resident of Aurora and suspect you have been a victim of this scam, please contact the Aurora Police Department at 630-256-5000 or come to the Aurora Police Department to file a report with our front desk officer.

SOURCE: Aurora Police Department news release