Consumer Alert: Check it Out

It started with a simple on-line ad, a college student looking to sublet his apartment. But in this I-team Consumer Alert, you will see how con-men spotted an easy target and pounced.

Brad McDonald is a victim of fraud. “I got a lot of responses in like the first week and I was just seeing which one would pay the most money or who would be staying the longest.” A college student, McDonald was planning on heading home for the summer so he tried to sublet his apartment through craigslist. One e-mail response came from students who said they were in another country and would pay 3-thousand dollars for two months.

What happened next? “They sent me a check for the rent for the apartment and for their travel fees, because they said they were out of the country.”

They asked Brady to cash the check, take the money he was owed and write a check for the remainder to a travel agent making their travel arrangements. Brady thought it was strange. but eager to rent his apartment, he did what they asked. “We cashed the check the next day and then sent the money right after that, and then the check bounced and I was out three grand.”

The check was counterfeit.

Postal inspectors say timing is key to the scam. Gary Neff is a U.S. Postal Inspector. “A lot of consumers have the misconception that the bank would assume the losses in situation like this when in reality, you as a consumer are responsible for the funds you deposit into your account and the for the funds you withdraw from your account. You should never transfer or wire money to someone you don’t know. Because once it’s gone it’s almost impossible to get back.”
Postal inspectors say you should never wire or transfer money to someone you don’t know. Once it’s gone it’s impossible to get back.

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