Salina Police warn of a theft scam that people around the country, and locally, have fallen victim to.
Police issued this release Monday:
The Salina Police Department wishes to keep the public informed regarding a theft scam, which has cost victims nationwide hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Salina Police Department Special Enforcement Bureau has recently identified a number of Kansas residents to include Salina residents who have fallen victim to the scam.
In October, 2013, a Salina resident was found to be involved in a Nigerian theft scam. The local woman was arrested and later convicted for her action in the scam. The Salina Police Department learned through the investigation the scam was being conducted by several people in Nigeria, Africa, with the help of other individuals within the United States.
HOW THE SCAM WORKS
All victims of the scam were found to have previously listed personal property for sale using the website “Craigslist.”
Each victim was contacted by one of the scam suspects who had agreed to purchase the property for a set fee. Each victim was then sent payment for the property in the form of a MoneyGram money order or business type check. During each scam, the money order or check was made out to the victim for an amount far exceeding the agreed purchase price. The victim would then be recontacted and the suspect explained the over payment was a mistake. The victim was asked to send the remainder of the currency back to the purchaser using MoneyGram or another wire transfer method.
Weeks later the MoneyGram or check would be returned by the victim’s bank as being fraudulent, leaving the victim responsible for the full amount of money order lost.
Recently, the Salina Police Department has gathered information, which indicates this type of scam is continuing and a number of Salina residents have fallen prey. The thefts have primarily gone un-reported to the Police Department as it is believed the victims are ashamed or embarrased for falling victim to the scam. The scammers in the recent cases reside outside of the State of Kansas. The recent incidents include the same manner of operation, as each victim had listed personal property for sale using CraigsList. This scam on average costs the victims between $500 and $2,200 dollars each.
The Salina Police Department wishes to again inform the citizens of Salina about this criminal operation and encourages all citizens to stay vigilant when receiving any payment from someone they do not know. The Salina Police Department encourages all citizens to never send large amounts of money in this manner unless having fully investigated the matter beforehand. The Salina Police Department recommends allowing several weeks for the MoneyGram money order or check to clear through their bank before sending money to another person they do not know.
Investigations into these scams have uncovered that each victim wishes to believe the people they are dealing with (regarding the purchases of their property) are legitimate and doing so lawfully. The scam suspects have proven to be very ruthless and leave the victims believing the suspects are honest and making the purchase in good faith.
The Salina Police Department wants the public to know the facts regarding this type of scam and asks citizens to follow these guidelines to better protect themselves:
#1: Never accept payment for property you are selling, which was made out in excess of your asking price. (If this occurs, you will be contacted and asked to return the over-payment.) Consider the request for re-payment to be a scam and discontinue contact with the other person.
#2: Never send anyone you do not personally know large amounts of money (especially through a wire transfer service) unless weeks have passed and you have received confirmation from your financial institution that a MoneyGram or check is in fact official.
#3: Always remember, the suspect does not want your property that you are selling. They want your money, which will be in the amount of the “over-payment.”
The Salina Police Department asks anyone who has fallen victim to a scam or who may have information about a scam to contact the Salina Police Department at 785-826-7210.