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Police warn of Craigslist scams

Benton police have recently received two reports of scams involving the sale of items on the online classifieds site Craigslist.
BENTON, AR - The Benton Police Department is warning people about an online scam. Investigators are working two separate cases where suspects tricked people into selling items through Craigslist for more money than the actual listing price.

Police say the scam starts out as a typical online transaction until the seller gets a check for more money than the item is posted for. The buyer then asks the seller to just send them the difference. That's when the deal goes bad, and the innocent seller ends up out a whole lot of cash.

Benton Police say one case of overpayment scam they are investigating involves a woman who sold a dress on Craigslist for $300, but the buyer sent her a check for $2,000, asking the seller to send back the rest. Luckily, police say the woman took the time to check with her bank. Turns out the bank account had insufficient funds.

Lt. Kevin Russell says the old saying is true. "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. You just need to be careful."

Another similar case Benton Police are working on involves a man sold his truck online for $2,000 but got a check for $7,000, the buyer asking him to send the rest back. Days later the seller got a call from his bank saying he's $5,000 in the negative. "You have to look out for yourself and be very observant about things."

The Better Business Bureau sees this scam a lot, and says there are many more people who get taken advantage of who never come forward because they are too embarrassed or ashamed to admit they got scammed. Mike Rohrer says it's a lose, lose situation for everyone involved. That's why Rohrer says it's important to know if you encounter one of these cons there are red flags to watch out for. "If there's pressure to do it right then, today, than that's probably a big red flag. There's no reason why you can't wait one more day and do some investigation."

Rohrer says the scam doesn't have to be a business. If you have the individuals name, email, or phone number of the person you think may be trying to scam you, you can plug that information in on their website to check to see if that person has tried to scam someone else before.

Police say what makes these scams so successful are in many cases, the checks are real; they've just been stolen or have insufficient funds in the accounts. People think if they see a watermark on the check it must be real, but it's not.

When in doubt, police say check with your bank before you make a deposit because you will be held responsible for trying to cash a bad check.
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