Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fraud on E-Bay

E-Bay has become a vehicle for Nigerian Fraud, although it is questionable, whether or not this is the only group involved now. The scam begins when a Seller is contacted (cars seem popular) by an alleged Buyer and the Seller is presented with a large check for more than the amount of the purchase. The seller is told to negotiate the check and wire the excess money overseas to countries, such as Nigeria, Canada, or just about anywhere in Europe. Eventually, the check is deemed counterfeit and the Seller is left holding the bag.

Initially, the checks were being negotiated at Banks and the seller's account was garnished once the instrument was found to be fraudulent. This hit the news and now the groups doing this are becoming more creative, they are instructing the Seller to go to a Check Cashing Store that also does wire transfer. Often, the Seller is also encouraged to keep the entire transaction confidential. This leaves the Seller open to arrest, however from a legal perspective, it is unlikely prosecution will take place since essentially the sellers intent isn't to defraud.

At first, the instruments were Cashier Checks and have mutated to Postal Money Orders and regular counterfeit items.

This scam is normally blamed on the Nigerians, however it is now being traced to Europe, the former USSR and more often than not, Canada.

Although, this scam is fairly easy to spot, it is happening daily across the country. Much of it isn't reported because the Seller is reluctant to do anything about it. Local Law Enforcement types (especially in large metro areas) are unsure how to go about investigating it, or are unwilling because it is out of their jurisdiction. The recommended venue to report this crime is with the Secret Service. A listing of their local field offices is located at http://www/secretservice.gov.

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