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NBC 6 Investigation: Online Scammers on Reputable Websites

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 6's Myriam Masihy investigates how online scammers are hitting customers of reputable websites like ebay. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014)

    Laura Quintero, a college student from Miami, has a warning for online shoppers: beware of scammers. Quintero said scammers are imitating websites like ebay to make you think you are purchasing an item through a reputable site, but in reality, you're not.

    Quintero said she discovered the scam when she was getting ready to pay $2,000 for a Jeep Wrangler she found for sale on Craigslist. The ad looked legit. The seller even sent her an invoice with an ebay logo on it.

    “The invoice looked so real,” Quintero told the Team 6 Investigators, but there was something odd.

    The invoice instructed her to buy MoneyPaks; pre-paid cards you can use to send money anywhere. Quintero thought that was odd, so she called ebay. That's when she learned the truth.

    This was not a legitimate ebay ad and the people running it could have been just trying to get her money. Quintero canceled the transaction before she lost her money.

    Arnulfo Chiari wasn’t so lucky. He wanted to buy his mom a Nissan Pathfinder he saw on Craigslist.

    “It looked great; I saw the pictures; the car had no damages,” Chiari told NBC6.

    Chiari sent $2,300, but never got the car. The invoice he got looked like it was from Google Wallet. It directed Chiari to send the money via Money Gram. He said he was suspicious until he heard the seller’s story.

    “I’m getting deployed to Afghanistan and I don’t want the car just to sit there. I rather somebody take it and put it to good use,” Chiari said he was told.

    Attorney Rick Diaz worked with the Miami Dade Police Economic Crimes Unit and says scammers lure victims with sob stories.

    “It’s a basic fraud, where we offer something for sale that doesn’t exist,” Diaz says. He explains that scammers attract you with a nice picture, the right price and “give you a song and dance sob story.”

    Diaz said once you send money, it’s nearly impossible to recover because the sellers use fake ID’s to pick up wire transfers and then vanish. He recommends you ask for “multiple pictures of the object because they may only have one picture.”

    Ebay and Craigslist warn you up front to be extremely wary of anyone who asks you to wire money instead of using PayPal or a credit card. They also recommend avoiding ads that don't have a mailing address or phone number and recommend you do business with people you can meet in person.

    Chiari says that's advice he wishes he'd had.

    “I mean people just have to learn from my mistake and not fall for it,”Chiari said.

    If you are a victim of this kind of crime, you can report it at the internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

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