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Rip-Off Alert: Vegas family steers clear of Craigslist scam

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 7/24/2014 2:12 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV — “Let the buyer beware” is a popular adage, but sellers have to watch out, too. 
That's the warning from a Las Vegas mother and son who were contacted by a con man through an online ad. They share their story in this Rip-Off Alert.

The Craigslist ad said, “I have a used pearl drum set, I'm looking to sell it to make more space.” – Simple, straight and to the point. The ad had been on the site for 15 to 20 days, according to Devon Swallow.

Finally, an offer came from a man outside Nevada. He quickly sent Devon instructions on how he would pay for the drum set: with a check, which must be deposited within 24 hours. Then, Devon would have to contact the buyer right away. Devon’s mother, Jan, started to suspect something wasn't right.

“It didn't feel right the way the guy was talking through the texts,” she said.

If this was a scam, would they get a check anyway? They decided to find out and asked the check to be delivered to Jan Swallow's work address.

“I expected a little more than $225, but when I got the check, it was more than $1,980,” she said. “I think I gasped out loud.”

“It sounded too good to be true,” Devon said.

A call to the supposed buyer went unanswered, but they received another text: The extra payment covered shipping fees, and Devon needed to deposit the check right away.

The Swallows concluded that scammers were behind the whole thing.

Jan Swallow said that if her bank had deposited the check, it “would've gone back and withdrawn the funds from my account. I would've been out $2,000 plus the cost of overdraft fees.”

As for the drum set, it's still online and the Swallows are still looking for a buyer, with a few conditions: They are staying local, and cash only.

The safety portion of Craigslist website reaffirms what the Swallows now know. Their top 3 tips for a safe sale:
  • Deal locally with someone you can meet in person. The website says this could protect you from nearly all scam attempts.
  • Never wire funds: Requests usually come from scammers.
  • As real as they may seem, fake cashier checks and money orders are common, and you will be responsible for the lost money.


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