Sherman Police investigating ad scam

By: Stephanie Brletic Email
By: Stephanie Brletic Email

SHERMAN, Tex. -- Sherman police are investigating a possible ad scam targeting local people. Police say it starts when victims place classified ads in the newspaper trying to sell an item.

That's when the victim receives a Telex deaf-service call from someone wanting to buy the item. After the transaction, the victim receives a money order in the mail for more than the item's cost with a letter attached stating that the extra funds are to cover the conversion from foreign funds.

The victim is also instructed to return the left over money to the scammer, but police say that if the victim does cash the check or money order, they can be charged with a felony.

Leslie Hillburn is one woman who has been targeted by these scammers. In fact, Hillburn hasn't been contacted just once but three times in the last three days.

"When I e-mailed the pictures to them, they responded back pretty quick and they even went as far as picking out a sex of the puppy they wanted," she says.

The calls started after Hillburn placed an ad for puppies she has for sale. Hillburn says the scammers contacted her through a hearing impaired phone service.

"And that they would send me a cashier’s check and they'd compensate me a hundred extra dollars to cash the check, keep my portion of it, and then mail the remainder of the check to another address."

She says she was happy to get such a quick response to her ads but she soon realized that this was too good to be true.

"At first I was excited, I thought you know, the puppies are getting done on the Internet and when I received this it was a disappointment,. I kinda noticed when it was in my bulk and not my inbox, I thought okay, something isn't right," Hillburn says.

Sherman Police say the scammers are using the hearing impaired system to conceal their identities.

"They're calling to a central operator using the TTY system and then that operator is making the call. That way, there's no connection between them and the caller or anything else," Sherman Police Sgt. Bruce Dawsey says.

Police say that if you place a classified ad and someone contacts you, be cautious. Be suspicious if the buyer wants to buy without seeing the item first. Police also say you should think twice about cashing a money order -- especially if it's from another country.

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  • by Kat Location: OK on Feb 5, 2008 at 08:29 AM
    Its not just individuals...small businesses are being targeted by these scammers. A year or so ago they would actually call themselves. They would claim to be a minister or missionary from somewhere in a third world country. They would try to order very large quantities of an item to be shipped. The first one gave me two credit card #'s to pay for it. It didn't sit very well with me-someone wanting to spend that much $ on something that I am pretty sure is available in Africa! I called our credit card processing company. They ran the numbers and told me neither one had that 'ministers' name as an authorized user of the card. After that I just tell them we only sell to cash customers, and don't ship. I think they are using the TTY system now because its not so obvious they speak such poor english. It does make me mad, though, that they are abusing a system that is meant to help deaf people! And wasting my time in the process!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 5, 2008 at 06:14 AM
    The money orders can be forged... that's how you can be charged with a felony for trying to cash them. Also, when they have you deposit the money order and send them back the extra (or send it to another address), and then the money order "bounces"- you're out all that money as well.
  • by Anonymous Location: Country on Feb 5, 2008 at 04:16 AM
    You have to stay smart on these types of scams. They already tried it with me last year. I turned it in to the FBI and nothing was done. I knew it was a scam when they first emailed me. I have over 4000.00 in money orders at home that I never attempted to cash. Your best bet is to ask for a Wal Mart or US Post Office money order when selling anything. They both check to make sure they are valid before cashing them.
  • by kelly on Feb 4, 2008 at 08:52 PM
    why can the victim be charged with a felony for cashing the check or money order...that is nonsense......
  • by Debra Location: Atoka on Feb 4, 2008 at 05:55 PM
    I'm totally confused. What's wrong with cashing a money order? That's what they're for, isn't it? Why would it be a felony? Am I the only one that thinks this story doesn't make sense?
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