Computer Crime Research Center


New fraud scheme

Date: August 16, 2005
Source: Daily Press
By: Ron Wilson

The Postal Inspector in San Diego has announced a new type of counterfeit scheme. You thought there was enough challenge dealing with cash. Now you get to worry about the validity of postal money orders.

To catch the counterfeit scheme, you have to possess knowledge of the real thing. Isn't that typical in knowing the real item from the phony one? A "bad" money order is one-quarter inch longer than a legitimate money order. The ink on a bogus postal money order appears to be smudged. The green color is also different on a counterfeit versus genuine money order.

A genuine postal money order has a clear picture of Benjamin Franklin in a white oval circle on the left side. The image on the counterfeit money order is not clear, and you cannot tell who it is.

Also, the bad money order has a light color strip on the right of the oval circle with the letters USPS, which is hard to make out. The strip should be very dark in color, and the letters USPS should be clear.

The Internet is fraught with fraud. Several people have reported scams relative to items they have sold on the Internet. The attempted scams have ranged from small collectible items to large items, such as an automobile.

One case serves as a good example of what to be aware of. Three "buyers" contacted the seller and offered to buy the posted items for $15,000. The sale price was $9,000. The buyers say they will send the $15,000 check in exchange for the seller sending the buyers a $6,000 check. The $15,000 check is bad, but the buyers hope to cash the $6,000 check before the $15,000 problem is discovered. One buyer suggested that the seller could wire-transfer their $6,000 to them.

What is the excuse for offering a $15,000 check to the seller? One version reports that it is a cashier's check and they do not want to pay for a replacement. Two other versions claim it was given to them by a buyer of their merchandise and they cannot ask for a replacement.

One form of Internet scam involves shipping. A buyer purchases your automobile for the asking price. They send a phony check and ask you to pay the shipping cost. You are told you do not have to transport the vehicle until the buyer's check clears. How nice. In the meantime, your $2,000 check for shipping is cashed by a shipper who will never transport a thing.
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