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Keith McCord ReportingThe internet is becoming a very popular way to buy and sell just about anything. But if you are selling a big ticket item, such as a car, beware!
Scam artists in foreign countries-- and many times they are nations in west Africa-- search through internet classified ad sites, looking for people who are selling cars and trucks. Then they negotiate a deal using e-mails.
A local man who almost got ripped off and joins us with this scam alert. For sale, a 1999 Nissan Altima GXE good paint job, great shape. Dave Platt recently listed his car on the KSL.com classified ad web page. Within a few days he started exchanging e-mails with a man from a foreign country, working out the details.
At first Platt wasn't skeptical, but then he received an e-mail saying that a check was coming from another man for $3,000 more than his asking price.
Dave Platt, Email: "I would like you to receive the check, cash it, and wire the excess funds by removing the payment for the vehicle which is $5300.” Q-“So he's setting the hook?” “Yeah. This is where I became skeptical."
A couple of days later a check arrived $8500 in a plain envelope, Fed Ex’d from Lagos, Nigeria. Although authentic looking, it was a fake check.
George Dougherty with the FBI in Salt Lake says this scam has been going around for a while-- one of many scams involving Nigeria.
George Dougherty, FBI: "The people who are conducting these scams realize a couple things. Number one, it's going to be hard to trace it back to them, because they're in a different country; and number two they rely on the fact that it's going to be embarrassing for you."
Dave knew the proposed auto transaction was bogus for sure when he received a late-night phone call from a man who refused to give his name.
Dave Platt: "And he says, ‘That's not important, I just want to know, have you wired me my money yet?’ and hung up on me."
Scammers bank on the fact that a victim will send them a real check for the overpayment without ever making sure the first check was legit. But Dave didn't. He just wants to alert people to be careful. By the way, Dave's car is still for sale!