MCC student trying to sell textbook uncovers Craiglist scheme

August 02, 2017 08:41 PM

When a college student recently tried to sell an old textbook on Craigslist, she unwittingly uncovered a scheme that has tentacles that reach from the west coast to New York City. She knew she needed to warn others, so she Dialed Deanna.

Molly Roy knows numbers.  She's a math major. "I took a short summer class at MCC, and I had to buy the book from MCC," said Roy.

Roy is referring to the book, Elementary Differential Equations, which she bought new for $200. After she finished the course, Roy tried to sell the book for $75 on Craigslist.

"I ended up getting this suspicious buyer," said Roy.

Roy said someone answered the ad immediately. The name on the email was Williams Carey. But the email address reads Frank Haigh. And that's not all. His email was odd, and had awkward sentence structure. It said, "I will need your honest and trust to end up this transaction. i will like to know if I can trust you with my money, since the payment will be issued out soon."


"That just seemed a little sketchy," said Roy.

But the odd email was nothing compared to what happened next. She got an envelope via FedEx with a check for $1,200 from Concorde Medical Group based in New York City. For the math major, the numbers didn't add up. Roy called News10NBC.

Consumer investigator Deanna Dewberry called Concorde. An employee told News10NBC the company’s account had been “hacked” and the check was “fake.” She confirmed they’d gotten calls from across the country concerning the fake checks.

U.S. Secret Service Agent-in-charge Lewis Robinson says it's not the first time he's seen this scam.

"It's quite common here in the Rochester-area and upstate New York area. We do see it," said Robinson.

Here's how the Secret Service says the scam works. Thieves send the Craigslist seller a fake check from a hacked account. The thief asks the seller to cash the big check and wire some of the money to a third party. It could be days before the bank discovers the check is fake. And then the bank will require the consumer to pay back the funds.

The Concorde Medical Group is not the only business affected by the scam. One of Amazon’s FedEx accounts may have been impacted too. The return address and tracking number indicate the check came from Amazon’s office in Seattle, WA.

News10NBC’s Deanna Dewberry contacted Amazon and FedEx. Both are investigating how a fake check was sent from what appears to be an Amazon FedEx account.

As for Roy, she still hopes to sell that pricey textbook, but now she's a bit more cautious on Craigslist. On its website, Craigslist says it provides neither buyer protection nor seller certification. It gives advice on buying and selling safely on Craigslist.

Here’s Deanna’s Do List.

1. Buy and sell locally - only do face-to-face transactions.

2. Beware of offers involving shipping.

3. Never wire funds.

4. Don't accept certified checks, cashier's checks, or money orders.

5. Report any scams to the Federal Trade Commission or the FBI’s Internet Fraud Center.


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