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O.T: Let the seller beware! [Moderator Approved]

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  • violet_maccomyn
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 2006
      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
      taught.

      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
      local paper.

      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
      the vehicle.

      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
      cashiers check!

      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!
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