Beware of Scammers!
I regularly receive e-mails from sellers saying they were the target of a
scam attempt, so these scum are definitely actively reading this site. Please keep your
wits about you and don't fall for their tricks! (Read on for more information...)
I received a letter from a person who listed an engine for sale on the Ultralight Home
Page classifieds and was contacted by a "buyer" who attempted to scam him. An excerpt
from his letter follows:
"I am currently advertising an ultralight engine for sale in your classified ads. A gentleman from
Nigeria contacted me and offered to buy the engine. He offered to send more than the combined
purchase price and shipping costs, asking I send the balance remaining once the engine was shipped and
all costs determined. His goal was apparently to get me to send him the engine and cash before I knew
the check was no good.
This appears to be an internet scam. The cashiers check he sent seems to be a forgery. My bank
informs me that this is a very common activity on the internet these days, particularly involving
parties from Nigeria."
The moral of the story of course, is to make sure you have the actual funds in hand before
shipping anything to a buyer. (Wait for the checks to actually clear, etc.) This may seem like
common sense, but I felt I should post something just to make everyone aware that these
people are out there... In a close knit group like the ultralight community, we are
generally fairly trusting of other ultralighters, but as with any group of people, there
are scum out there too, so be careful.
What can you do?
The letter excerpted above was the first report I had received regarding attempted
scam activity by persons reading the Ultralight Home Page classified ads,
but since that time, I have received many reports from other people of
a similar nature. The basic premise is usually that the buyer offers to overpay
for the item, and the seller is requested to return the balance along with
the item itself. They hope that the seller will do this before they discover
that the "certified check" is counterfeit. If you receive such an offer, you
can be sure that it is a scam. At this point, you can either ignore
the "buyer" or you can go through the motions and file a complaint. I have
received a few queries from sellers with ads in the classifieds asking my
opinion as to how to proceed after being contacted by a scammer. Following
is the advice I have been giving them:
Its really up to you, whether or not you want to spend the time on it.
If it were me, I would report it at the very least. If the scammer is
someone from out of the
country, I don't know how much can be done but you never know. There's
also a chance that it could be someone in the US, or they are working
with someone in the US, which would be a lot
easier to track down. I found the following site:
It was set up by the FBI and allows you to report Internet Fraud.
Your report will be forwarded to the appropriate agency.
Here is another site I found with some links to applicable agencies:
Its up to you of course, but if it were me, I might be inclined to
"agree" to the deal so that they will send the fake check. Its one more piece of
evidence against them, and may be helpful to authorities if they pursue
this particular case. (And of course, if they don't actually send the
check, I guess it could be argued that no fraud took place.) Also, it
is my understanding that if they were to send the check through the US Mail,
it would be mail fraud, and be upgraded to felony status.
sure how well fingerprints adhere to paper, but just to be on the safe
side, I would recommend opening it very carefully (wearing gloves so as
to not disturb any prints or other evidence that might be on it, and
handle it as little as possible). Or you might not want to open it at
all, if you can see through the envelope with a light or something and
can verify what is in there. I would probably seal the check, the
envelope and anything else they might have sent in a ziplock bag, then
hang onto it in case the authorities ever ask for it. One other benefit
to having them send the check is that means they will have to spend some
time to get the check together, mail everything out, etc. In this case,
they will be the only ones out any money since they have to pay postage
and creating those counterfeit checks probably isn't inexpensive.
So you could at least derive some pleasure out of wasting their time and
some of their money. But that's just me.
They will probably contact
you afterwards to try to get the money sent right away (before the check
is discovered as counterfeit). You should print out all
correspondence that you have had with the person
(if the correspondence was via e-mail, be sure to print it out with full headers - your e-mail program should
have an option do display all the headers).
One caveat that you might want to think about is if you have them
send the check... Obviously you will need to give them some sort of
address, which begs the question, do you want these people to know
your home address? If there is a PO Box or perhaps a work address or
something along those lines which you could use, I would be inclined to give them that instead.
Just a thought.
Of course, I would not recommend cashing the check since
that would potentially destroy the evidence and will probably
gain you nothing but a bounced check service fee from the bank.
Be careful out there!