O.T: Let the seller beware! [Moderator Approved]
- Remember the time when that used to be let the Buyer beware? I sure
do. But the world has moved on from that time and the time before
that when mankind were not all out to screw each other over.
I remember when the stores had blank checks that you could write out
when buying groceries and stuff... You didn't even have your own
checkbook. Then that changed before I was out of elementary school
because people took advantage. Then we moved to personal checkbooks
which were good as gold. Then people took advantage of others using
personal checks so Money Orders and Cashiers Checks came along. These
instruments of finance were "same as cash"... or that's what I was
Well guess what... They aren't! Not only that.. but you have to
suspect any cash you're given. Sound a little alarmist? After what
I've just been through maybe I am a little.
It starts out with me selling my van. I've had it for about 5 years.
It's old but sound and I've replaced most of the periferal parts on
it over the last 3 years. Lucky for me I'm fairly mechanically
inclined. Anyway, I inherited a car when my mom passed away last year
and we are buying another vehicle from a friend of mine so we don't
need it any longer. I did what most people do, I placed an ad in the
I got a call from a man at least calling himself Tony Williams. He
asked me very educated questions about the van and told me he buys and
sells older vehicles and he pretty well knew the quirks of that model
so he offered me 200 less than my asking price to buy it unseen. He
said he would be overnighting a cashiers check to me that day and when
I received it, to call him and we'd make arrangements for transfer of
To be honest, I didn't believe the check would even come. But when
Fed Ex arrived the next day with a check in it... I was astounded and
somewhat thrilled that it had been this easy to sell my van. But oh
wait... the check was for $1955 more than the agreed amount. I called
him and told him what I was holding and he very convincingly freaked a
bit. He explained that he had given the money for his shipper and me
to his wife. His wife had apparently mixed up the amounts. He said
that if I would... would I deposit the check into my account and just
pay his shipper in cash when he came to pick up the vehicle. I said
okay and headed off to the bank.
While at the bank, I asked about how safe Cashiers Checks were and was
told that they /could/ come back. They were not placing a hold on the
check but that it would be best not to spend the money for 5 business
days. So, I told "Tony" that the bank /had/ placed a hold on it and I
would not be able to access the funds for 5 business days. He seemed
a bit surprised by this but did not react in any way that set off any
alarm bells with me. So... we waited and I planned what I was going
to do with the money.
On the fifth business day, I told him I was tied up with something
urgent and couldn't get to the bank till the next morning but we'd
finish everything then and he said he understood and to call him once
I had the cash in hand. We would finalize the transaction at that point.
The next morning, he called me and said that the shippers needed the
rest of their payment before they would pick up the vehicle. He asked
if I would wire it to them via Moneygram. That "Tanya Wilcox" with
the Shippers office would be the recipient.
Well, my bank is across town so I decided to save time and send the
wire over the internet. It turns out that it was a very good thing
that I did. Moneygram kept the transactions in pending and sent me an
email to call them. When I did, they asked why I was sending such a
large amount... so I told them some of the story. The lady at
Moneygram informed me that there is a HUGE scam... especially out of
Canada where this same scenario happens. That once they get their
wired funds, they disappear and you are left holding negative balance
in your checking account because the cashiers check came back. Of
course I had her stop the transactions and called my bank.
When I talked to my bank, I was informed that Dime bank (the bank the
cashiers check was from) had just informed them that they were sending
it back with a "refer to maker" code. Refer to maker either means
it's a fake check or there was a stop payment placed on it. Again I
was shocked... I had no idea that you could put a stop payment on a
When "Tony" called back to get the reference number on the wire
transfers, I asked him why he put a stop payment on the check. He did
a great acting job of being shocked. Even thought of asking for the
name of the person I talked to and the number to my bank... as if he
was going to call them! Of course.. my bank has not been called.
After this, I called my local police department. They too said this
is a /huge/ scam. In fact, they have so much information on
situations like this, they aren't even taking any more. The FBI is
investigating it and is having trouble catching up with these crooks.
In fact, the police detective advised that if I was selling a car to
deal in nothing but cash and even then, look the money over. If the
buyer only had check or cashiers check to buy the car, then it was
best to finalize the transaction in their bank so that I truly had
cash in my hand before handing over my title.
Lilalee looked it up on Snopes and there is an article on that website
with information on it. That and contact information for the Secret
Service. I'm contacting them today.
Anyway... I very narrowly averted financial disaster by some cautious
thinking and a bit of luck. I've been told that there have been
stories about this on the news... however I don't watch television. I
try to keep abreast of things through the net but... I'd never heard
of this one. I approached this with some caution and that was good.
But I still nearly got caught in it. He was soooo smooth. The sad
thing is... not everyone would have been as cautious as I was.
Sorry for taking so much of your time.... but I thought this was
important to pass on. We all hear stories of things similar to
this... but we discount them because they're too outlandish... or...
it's probably just another legend... or whatever reason. This is to
let you know... it really is happening... Let the seller beware!