Scammers Targeting Online Shoppers in Increasing Numbers - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Scammers Targeting Online Shoppers in Increasing Numbers


When you buy something online from a person or company you don't know, be careful.

As more people turn to the internet to shop for a deal, schemes are increasing, according to investigators.

A fraud victim named John, who didn't want to show his face because he still can't believe he lost $1,300 shopping on Craigslist, is sharing his story.

John says he found the parts he needed for his motorcycle on Craigslist, and they were 40 percent cheaper than the usual price.

The seller asked to be paid with money orders.

"This is the money order," said John. "One for $1,000 and the other for $300."

John overnighted the money and was told the parts would be sent immediately.  Days turned into weeks, and then months.

At first, he gave the seller the benefit of the doubt.

"I thought, maybe he's not trying to scam me, and just fell on hard times."

"The buyer was left waiting and waiting for parts that were never going to come," said Gil Webb, U.S. Postal Inspector.

"I felt like someone broke into my house and robbed my house," said John.

Postal inspectors say as more and more people shop online, the number of schemes grows.

"The mindset of the scammer, in this case, is they want money and they don't care what it takes to get it," said Webb.  "It's a very emotionless crime. They're just very greedy."

Inspectors say consumers need to be cautious while shopping online.

"It's a red flag when the seller only wants to communication with you through emails, because emails can be very anonymous," said Webb.

Eventually, the seller in this case was arrested and is now serving time.

"The fact that he is in jail is a victory--not only for me, but also for all of the other people who were scammed by him," said John.

John, also sued the seller and was awarded more than $4,000 by a judge.

Here's some advice when buying items online:

  • Authorities say you should try to create a paper trail so you have documentation of everything.
  • Try to get a good phone number from the seller.



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