Scams Await Users of Online Auction Sites

Thinking about selling something on an online auction site? You need to beware of scam artists who have only one goal in mind.

Computers, sports memorabilia, designer clothing and cars – these are just a few of the items offered for sale everyday on online auction sites.

As the popularity of these sites has grown… even rare antiquities such as coins and bank notes are available. The common thread? All of these items -- at one time or another --are being used to lure unsuspecting victims into a scam.

Legitimate sellers were selling those bank notes… but a con-artist was on the other end purchasing them.

Greg Botti, US postal inspector explained, “The buyer would agree to buy the notes. Upon receipt, sometime would pass, he would say “I never received the items, or I only got part of the items’ initiating a process called a credit card charge back.”

The scheme worked - postal inspectors started tracking the case and found hundreds of victims and $120,000 in losses.

“The individual used dozens and dozens of credit cards used various user IDs through the auction sites to mask their identity that is what allowed the frauds to be perpetrated over a lengthy period of time," said Botti.

Inspectors recommend: if you are selling a unique item on the internet, "Take a picture of the item or items that you’re selling. A lot of times the item is very unique and may have a serial number.”

Also keep any receipts from the post office as well as any correspondence between you and the seller. Inspectors say consumers need to protect themselves against these scam artists who are motivated by one thing.

“Getting money from people through lies and deceit," said Botti.

The suspect in this case has been charged with mail fraud and is awaiting trial. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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