How easy is it to fall into the trap of an online scam? NewsChannel 5’s Rhori Johnston found out when he tried to sell a sofa
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – A lot of people are selling their old stuff online these days and making a lot of money doing it. But do you know who else is trying to make money from online sales? Crooks!
These scammers masquerade as buyers and use old tricks to steal money from unsuspecting sellers. Just about anyone can fall victim to these scams.
These days, many people are turning to sites like Facebook Marketplace to get rid of used items that are still in good condition.
Rhori Johnston of NewsChannel 5 recently tried to sell an old brown leather sofa after buying a new one. He soon found out that there were crooks here who don’t want your old stuff, but they will use it to steal your money.
âI’ve been watching your stories for years about these scams and I always shake my head, ‘Why do people keep falling for this stuff? “” said Johnston NewsChannel 5 survey.
Now he realizes how easily someone can become a victim.
“I got a message from Barbara …” he said.
This Barbara contacted him shortly after posting her ad.
âThe bottom line was, I want the couch, I can’t take it right now, we’re planning our daughter’s wedding. We’re busy but I’ll give you a hundred dollars more if you keep it for a few weeks,â se Johnston remembers.
He said the message sounded plausible.
Then she sent another email, asking for her home address so she could send a cashier’s check, which should have been a red flag. Then he received a check in the mail.
“And that’s for a lot of money!” Johnston said with some surprise after opening the envelope and finding the check.
It was supposed to come from a church in Houston, Texas. The signature simply said “Christophe”. It was for $ 1,950, a lot more than Johnston had asked for his couch. All of these should have been red flags.
The buyer, Barbara, told Johnston that she wanted him to cash the check and return the difference immediately, supposedly to pay the movers who she said would soon be there to get the sofa.
Barbara told Johnston to send the money using a money order or through a cash app, a favorite of scammers because once you send it the money is gone and there is no way to get it back or find it easily.
âReally, the first email, if I had read it fully should have been a warning, but then again, I was just busy and thought I had to sell this sofa and I had to move it and I didn’t just wasn’t really focused on it, âJohnston said in hindsight.
Fortunately, he realized what was going on before he tried to cash the check or send the money.
“The last email I answered and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m only taking cash or Venmo. âI haven’t heard from Barbara since,â said Johnston.
If you are going to sell online, Facebook Marketplace recommends that you use a secure payment method like Paypal where there is always cash or Venmo.
That check that Johnston got that was supposed to come from a church in Texas?
NewsChannel 5 survey called the church and they said they had received calls from all over the country, from people in almost every state who had received checks like Johnston’s from buyers on Facebook Marketplace and Craig’s List. At one point a few weeks ago the church receptionist said she was getting up to ten calls a day. She said the checks look like the ones from the church, and they have an account with Bank of America, but they’re not from the church and there’s no one named Christopher. She said the Federal Trade Commission is now looking into this issue.
As for the sofa? After all this, instead of selling it, he decided to donate it to charity.