Hudson Craig's List seller discovered scam

Hudson Craig's List seller discovered scam

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HUDSON, FL -

When Wally Pember needed to sell a generator, he turned to Craig's List, and a buyer quickly responded to accept his $450 offer.

But when payment arrived in the mail, there were two Money Grams, and each one was for $975. A strange text message followed. The buyer said his secretary had mistakenly sent Pember too much money and asked that he deposit both checks, keep an extra $30 for this trouble, and send the balance back via Western Union.

"It's not only buyer beware. It's seller beware," Pember said.

Pember was suspicious, and took the checks to Money Gram to find out if they were real or not. The news was not good.

"The water marks are not correct," Pember said. "They're just ink, and they determined through the routing that they're counterfeit."

Dug Smith, a U.S. Postal Inspector who investigates mail fraud, said variations of this scam are common.

"They're exchanging a document for true cash," Smith said.

The idea is, Smith says, for the victim to deposit the fake money orders, then send real money to the scammer. By the time the bank realizes the money orders are worthless, it's too late. The victim is left owing the back the full amount of the fake money orders.

Pember's Money Grams looked authentic, but he learned there were warning signs. Pember said he was told the routing numbers on his money grams were too bold and the water mark is just printed.

Here are some tips to avoid turning your cash over to a crook.

When a check comes in for too much, it's likely a scam. Verify the money order is real with the company that issued it, and never send cash back to someone you don't know.

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