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Scam Alert

Lured from an auction into fraud
Pop quiz: If you are on an auction site and you get an e-mail from someone who offers to sell you the same item you were just bidding on for less, do you take their offer?

If you said yes, you are Grade-A-prime scam material.

Why shouldn't you take the offer? Because of Michael D. Hoffert of Florence, Ky.

Hoffert would contact people who were bidding for items on auction sites. He claimed he had the same items, but was willing to sell them at a lower price. The victims wired cash to Hoffert or sent him money orders. In return, Hoffert sent nothing.

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Hoffert was arrested in November of 2003 -- but that doesn't mean there aren't many more like him who are still getting away with it.

In a variation on this scam, auction losers are sent an e-mail with a link that offers the same product they were bidding on -- but at a better price. Once they visit the site, they are asked to "register" by providing their name, bank account information and passwords.

Then the victim "wins" the auction and is told to send the payment to a (fake) escrow site. The victim has now lost his cash and his identity has been stolen.

The United States Secret Service together with the Romanian General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime recently arrested a scammer in Alba, Romania, who used this method to bilk online victims out of $500,000.

Read about more scams.

 
-- Posted: Jan. 16, 2004
   

 

 
 
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