Some local residents are furious after con artists tried to scam them while selling furniture and other large items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. The residents are now campaigning to warn others so they do not become victimized.
The scam goes as such: A law-abiding person wishes to sell their couch, dining room table, or other large item located in their house. The person goes online to place an ad to sell the item. The ad states that the buyer will need to pick it up.
The con artist contacts the seller while posing as a potential buyer. The crook claims they are out of town, but they have a family member or friend nearby who can pick it up. Then they offer to pay.
The scammer will propose one of two ways to pay the seller. The first offer is to make a payment using Zelle, which is an online payment service. The scammer will then tell the seller that prior to completing the transaction, the seller needs to upgrade their Zelle account to a business account by depositing money. The scammers then take the money and are never heard from again.
The second scam is they offer to pay with a certified check. The scammers or their affiliates come and pick up the item for sale. When the seller goes to the bank to deposit the certified check, it is determined that the check is fraudulent.
One local resident warned that a scammer sent her a $1,000 check to purchase a $545 item. She did not take the bait and abstained from making the sale.
These residents who were either victimized or became potential victims are now warning others how to avoid falling into this scam. First, never give out your phone number to the person you are selling an item to. If possible, meet the buyer in the local police department parking lot instead of inviting them to your residence. If the item is too large to lug to the police department, inviting a stranger to your house may not be the best idea. When selling an item, only collect a cash payment. This will avoid any online scams or fraudulent checks from being passed.