Sellers beware! People using the Internet to sell items need to be aware of an Internet scam. You may be offered more money than you're even asking for your merchandise as an enticement.
Ron Williams, of Center Point, wants to sell one of his motorcycles. The 1979 Honda Gold Wing 1000 has only 31,000 miles and is in good shape. He felt $1,750 was a reasonable asking price.
As a member of the Gold Wing Touring Association, Williams thought advertising on their Web site was the quickest and cheapest way to sell the cycle.
So in early June, Williams, who is also the President of the Brazil Ride Group of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, ran an ad on the Internet.
Williams said when he first listed the motorcycle, the Webmaster from Gold Wing Tour Association notified him of a situation where a man had sold a classic car to a group from another country through the Internet. The buyers paid him with a cashiers check drawn on an American bank. They paid more than the asking price because, they said, it was in excellent condition.
The man thought it was safe because it was a cashiers check. The buyers arrived on a Saturday afternoon so the check couldn't be verified by a local bank.
The seller took the check, signed the title and watched as the buyers loaded the car into a truck and drove away. He then deposited the check in the night deposit box and wrote several large checks against it over the weekend.
Monday he was notified by the bank the check had been run off on a laser printer. There was no security mark on the back. The check was no good. The seller lost his car and the amount of the checks he'd written against the cashiers check totaling about $30,000.
Forewarned, Williams wasn't surprised by some of the responses he received after advertising his motorcycle on the Internet. The first two were from West Africa. One offered Williams $1,800 for the motorcycle, sight unseen, plus paying the shipping costs. Neither man responded when Williams said he would accept cash only.
Another potential buyer said he was a U.S. citizen based in London. A client in the U.S. owed him $6,000. The prospective buyer told Williams that he would instruct his client to issue a cashiers check for the full $6,000 to Williams. Williams was to cash the check, keep $1,750 for the motorcycle and send the remaining $4,250 via moneygram to his agent who would then pay for the shipping cost of the motorcycle.
Assuming the offers were more of the fraudulent scams, Williams contacted the local Sheriff's Department. They advised him to notify the State Police who in turn sent him to the FBI. There he was directed to the Internet Fraud Line.
"The man at the Internet Fraud Line said I could file a report but all I could say was that I'd been contacted and he didn't think that was enough to proceed. What I was trying to do," Williams said, "was to set up the deal and when they came to get the motorcycle the police could apprehend them. But the authorities didn't appear interested in doing that. So I let it drop.
"But I want to warn other people," Williams said. "If you answer those guys say, I deal in cash only. If they're serious and legitimate, cash won't be a problem. Always check it out. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."