We have had a couple of messages from Lute Society members to the effect that fraudsters are continuing to target people selling lutes - and other objects of high value - over the internet.
Here is a typical message from a fraudster, and below that an explanation from the police of how the scam works.
|From: firstname.lastname@example.org |
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2004 7:56 AM
I'm really interested in buying your 10c lute 63.5cm, by Bernd Holzgruben as a gift for my Son. I'll be looking forward to sending me any available picture of the item and also the last price you want to let it go for,so as to make necessary arrangement for the payment. My method of payment is a certified cashier's check that is drawn on a reputable U.K Bank.
I'll like to know cost of shipping to NIGERIA, and if you can't, i'll handle it by contacting my shipping agent for the shipment arrangement. I'm waiting for your mail today.
And here is the police's explanation of the scam.
Detectives in Avon and Somerset are warning people about a sinister new on-line fraud. People who offer their vehicles for sale on the Internet, are being targeted by the unscrupulous fraudsters. The potential buyers usually located in another country contact the sellers with a proposal to buy their vehicle after spotting adverts on the Internet. The offer is usually coupled with an explanation that the buyer has a cheque due to his business from another source and that the cheque is in a larger sum than the agreed cost of the vehicle. The seller is then asked if the cheque can be made payable to them to cover the cost of the vehicle with a further request that the difference is forwarded by the seller back to the buyer. Det Con Andy Davis of Avon and Somerset Police's Fraud Squad said: We believe the scam is being operated by West African crime teams. There have been a number of approaches to people in the force area during the past few weeks. It is known that cheques when sent to the sellers, are either stolen of forged. Any difference between the price of the vehicle and the value of the cheque, if sent back to the buyer, will be a potential loss to the victim. It is well known that these crime teams - who operate from all over the world - regularly bombard e-mail users with requests for personal or company bank details in order to transfer huge amounts of (fictitious) money, with an offer of large financial rewards. Those who take up these invitations inevitably end up losing considerable amounts of their own money.
It now seems that these same people have diversified and are now trying to con vehicle sellers out of their money. Our advice to anyone who is approached in this way is to immediately cancel any dealings with the person concerned. There is no logical reason for anyone wanting to pay for goods in this way and people selling vehicles are advised to seek more regular and secure methods of payment such as a banker's draft, said DC Davis.