Crooks Go to Great Lengths to Get Your Money

If it looks like a check and feels like a check doesn't mean it spends like a check.

You've probably heard of the Craigslist scheme where you put an item for sale and then someone offers to pay you more than what you were asking. But one North Texas man found out what can happen even after you turn down a potential crook.

David Sullivan has a lot of stuff in his garage. Two years after moving here from Illinois, he felt his generator was just taking up space. He was asking $650 or best offer.

Within hours, someone texted Sullivan saying he'd give asking and then some. Sullivan's wife was immediately suspicious.

"But I already sent him my address, so then I just turned right around and sent him another text and said 'oh, sorry I've already sold it,'" said Sullivan.

The man kept texting. But Sullivan didn't think anything of it till he got a check for $1,767.

"He wanted me to cash the check and once it cleared, to let him know and then he would put me in touch with his moving company and then I would pay them the expenses to have it moved," Sullivan said.

So Sullivan gave the check to NBC 5 instead. Fifth-Third, the bank listed on the check confirms it's bogus, even though it looks really legitimate.

"I kind of thought that it would be good to maybe publicize this so that other people would know that it can happen to you," said Sullivan. "If you get something that looks suspicious that it might be a good reason why it looks that way."

Sullivan ended up getting a real offer for the generator, although it was no where near $1,700.

Fifth-Third sent some tips on how to spot a fake:

  • Look for spelling or typing mistakes
  • Make sure the amount of the check matches the spelled out amount
  • No logo? It's probably a fake.
  • Look for gaps, shaky or erratic pen strokes in the signature.
  • Real checks are printed on matte paper, shiny paper may mean it's phony.
  • Those numbers on the bottom of the check should also be dull to the touch.. not shiny.
  • Feel the edges of a check. Most have one perforated or rough edge.
  • If the ink looks suspicious, dampen your finger and put it in an inked area. If it bleeds, it's probably a fake.

For more advice on how to spot a fake, click here.

Craigslist has its advice for avoiding schemes here.

The company says 99 percent of all schemes can be avoided by dealing locally, with someone face-to-face.

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