PORTLAND - Eric Newland had a great deal on CraigsList this week. A nice couch, love seat and coffee table along with a matching buffet for only $400.
So Newland wasn't surprised when an hour after posting his furniture for sale he got an email from a buyer who would pay his asking price. Both Newland and the buyer agreed to use PayPal to protect both of them.
The buyer asked for Newland's PayPal account information so the buyer could deposit the $400.
When Newland got an email from the buyer, it included a copy of his PayPal account showing the buyer had deposited not $400 but $600. The buyer said the extra $200 was to cover shipping charges. But shipping charges were only $50 so the buyer asked Newland to send him back $150.
To this point, everything seemed fine except for one fact: the buyer insisted the $150 be wired through Western Union which once it's sent that's real money you can't get back.
Seeing this as a red flag, Newland went to double check his PayPal account himself. That's when he discovered the buyer had not deposited $600 in his account but instead used a counterfeit copy to trick Newland into thinking he had deposited the money.
In any online transaction - never wire money back to someone that you aren't 100 percent sure the money they've sent you is real. That goes for cashiers checks, money orders, postal money orders and yes, even cash.