Santa Monica Police detectives have been conducting several grand theft and fraudulent check investigations involving people using the eBay Web site.
eBay is an online site where one can purchase and sell merchandise on the Internet.
It is being alleged that the people being investigated have been purchasing items on the Internet and sending fraudulent cashier’s checks to the sellers.
Under the alleged scheme, the fraudulent checks are written for a higher amount than the asking price for items on eBay and the buyer then asks the seller to cash the check and send the merchandise and a refund for the “overpayment.”
In one alleged incident, a buyer bought a computer from a victim for $500 and the buyer sent the victim a check for $4,000. The buyer asked the victim to cash the fraudulent check and send the $3,500 overpayment to a location in Nigeria.
The $4,000 check was fraudulent and the victim suffered a financial loss.
Police say that, generally, the buyer claims to live outside the U.S., for example, in Nigeria.
The buyer then claims that he has someone in the U.S. who owes him money, for example, $4,000.
The buyer says he will have this third party send the seller a cashier’s check for $4,000.
The seller is instructed to cash the check and deduct money owed him for the item being sold and the cost of shipping, for example, $1,500.
The seller is then instructed to mail the sold item to an address and to send the remaining money, in this case $2,500, by Western Union to the buyer.
Police say that often the cashier’s check is not discovered to be fraudulent until days after the seller has wired the money and mailed off the purchased item.
The Santa Monica Police Department asks anyone using any type of online auction site to be cautious when receiving a cashier’s check from a buyer located outside the U.S.
Anyone having information regarding this scam is asked to call the Santa Monica Police Department, (310) 458-8491; or Detective Maury Sumlin, (310) 458-8437.