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Sam Penrod reportingHistorically a cashier's check has been as good as cash, but a fraudulent cashier's check isn't as good as the paper it's printed on.
It's seller beware! An international scam has reached into Utah through the Internet--and it’s a scam that's making victims out of many people across the country.
The scam is based in the African country of Nigeria. It appears to be the latest scheme involving bank fraud and the Internet.
People are given cashier's checks for large amounts of money as payment for items they are selling. But many unsuspecting people find out too late that the checks are fake.
The scam targets people who try to sell big-ticket items over the Internet, such as cars. And while the potential customer will seem very interested in what you are trying to sell, they are really just interested in ripping you off.
When Jim Brierley decided to sell this 1969 Ford truck he'd fixed up, he placed an ad on the Internet. A few days later he got a strange offer-- deposit a five thousand dollar cashier's check, keep your share as payment for the truck and wire the rest overseas.
Jim Brierley: “I thought it was kind of funny there would be that much money involved in an old truck like this that I’m asking 24-hundred dollars for in the first place; and somebody overseas is going to buy it, and ship it and still make money on it."
Brierley, who works as a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper, was immediately suspicious.
Still he kept talking to the potential buyer just in case, who quickly sent him a cashier's check as payment for the truck.
"Jim Brierley: "The next day after I received the check, I received another email saying they really needed the money now, that this person's son was dying and in the hospital and needed surgery by Friday or he wasn't going to survive and that I was their only hope."
Brierley confirmed with the bank that the cashier's check was indeed counterfeit and stopped communicating with the supposed buyer.
But they didn't stop emailing him.
Jim Brierley: "If I don't get the money within 24 hours, your life on this earth is over."
Breirley avoided being defrauded, but worries others might fall for what's called a Nigerian E-mail scam.
The scam tries to pressure people into wiring real money to the crooks, before victims or their bank realizes the cashier's check is a fake.
And if a check proves to be a fraud, the bank may come after the depositor for what is usually thousands of dollars.
And the scam is working as people across the country are being defrauded of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By the way, Jim Brierley's truck is still for sale.