New scam targets sellers
When Terry Shaw placed an advertisement in the newspaper trying to sell an electric guitar and an amplifier, he figured it would be sold to someone who enjoys music as much as he does. Little did he know that soon he would almost become another statistic in a postal money order fraud scheme.
Shaw, who recently moved to Carbon County about six months ago, placed an advertisement last week in the Sun Advocate selling a Peavey electric guitar and a Crate GX-15 amplifier together for $225. He was contacted via email by someone named "Kerry Hunter", who claimed to be from Dallas, Texas and was looking to purchase the equipment.
After corresponding through email, "Kerry" contacted Shaw by telephone through a service called IP Relay, which is a calling service designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who are looking to communicate from almost anywhere in the world at anytime through the use of a mobile device and/or a personal computer. Shaw had never heard about IP Relay before and after researching the subject more, he started to become a little suspicious of "Kerry".
"I was wondering what a deaf person would want with my guitar and amplifier,"Shaw said.
Instead of receiving $225 and money to cover the shipping of the equipment, "Kerry" sent three money order checks for $875.55 in a FedEx envelope to Shaw's residence.
Shaw, who works as a music instructor, was given instructions by "Kerry" through another email that he was to cash the checks and then deliver the extra money to the shipper who would pick it up later. At this point Shaw knew something was not right, so he contacted the Price Post Office and told them of the situation. Shaw was told he was the sixth person in the last few months who has become involved in a situation similar to this. He turned the money orders over to the Post Office, saying they looked normal and not out of the ordinary.
"They [money orders] looked very real and very convincing," Shaw explained. "If he [Kerry] wasn't so greedy about this, I probably would have fallen for it."
Aleck Shilaos, Price City Police chief, said the police hear about scams all of the time, noting there are many different forms and scams out there right now. Many times the people say they are from a city in the United States, but they are most likely operating out of an African county such as Nigeria, he said.
"The scams are very common, even around here," Shilaos noted. "But it seems like they are always operating offshore somewhere."
Local residents who encounter a scam, are encouraged to contact their local authorities. Shilaos said an officer would take a report and from there it would be forwarded to the federal authorities, including the Utah Attorney General Office and the FBI. But for those who fall into a scam and lose out on their money, the people who are behind the scam more than likely will never be caught and charged with a crime, he said.
"If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is," Shilaos said.
Over the past few days, Shaw said he has been contacted though IP Relay two more times, but has refused to take each call. While no harm has happened to him, Shaw said it was definitely a learning experience.
"I would be very leery of people who don't identify themselves and anything about a deal that seems unusual," he said.
Despite the scam, Shaw said the experience won't hold him back from selling anything again. But now, the guitar and amplifier have a better story to go along with them, he said.
"Someone will be buying pieces of history," he laughed. "The materials have good karma now."