Craigslist scam, work-from-home scheme are connected: Chatham County, sheriff's Office warns

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Sunday, August 20, 2023
NC woman who lost life savings in imposter scam is now warning others
The 84-year-old tells ABC11 Troubleshooter she's embarrassed and devastated after losing her life savings. And, now she's breaking her silence to warn others.

CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Chatham County, sheriff's office is issuing a warning about scams they're investigating.

Deputies said they've received reports on a Craigslist scam and a work-from-home scheme that they believe are connected.

In one case, investigators said they were able to trace the scammer to Nigeria, reinforcing the global nature of the scam, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

How the scams work

According to the sheriff's office, the alleged Craiglist scammer targets individuals who are selling items on Craigslist. The person initiates communication with sellers, expressing interest in their listed items, and then offers to make the purchase via a cashier's check to cover an agreed-upon price.

Next, a check is sent to the seller with a monetary value that exceeds the originally agreed-upon price. The perpetrator then persuades the victim to return the excess funds to a person in their area and tells them the overpayment will cover transportation costs or other fabricated expenses. The fraudulent nature of the cashier's check often becomes apparent only after the targeted persons have returned the surplus funds.

Deputies warn that work-from-home individuals unwittingly act as a "money mule" to handle the checks. They print the counterfeit checks, package them, and mail them. In some cases, they're unknowingly involved in a "work-from-home" scheme. Officers said individuals believe they are employed by a legitimate company to work on payrolls.

Investigators are reminding people to exercise extreme caution when engaging in online transactions and dealing with unfamiliar individuals, especially those who ask for unusual payment methods.

Chatham County residents should report any suspicious transactions to the Chatham County Sheriff's Office at 919-542-2911, or their local law enforcement agency.

The Craigslist scam is not only operating in Chatham County, but victims of this scheme have also been reported in Wyoming, Florida, Minnesota, and Virginia, investigators say.

Note: Attached video is from a previous ABC11 story about an "imposter scam."

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