Classified ad scams on the rise
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Sellers and buyers beware. Some peoople are looking to scam you out of your money by advertising through the classified section of the local newspapers. Liz Johnson, classified advertising manager for Colorado Mountain News Media, which operates the Summit Daily News, said she’s seen a rise in advertising ad scams in recent years, and it’s getting worse. “It’s just amazing, the amount of scams there are,” Johnson said. In her experience, she has seen a variety of scams placed in the classified section of the news paper. She said that one in every three pet ads have proven to be false in the past. The classified department still gets so many that they only run local “pet for sale” ads if they can verify that there is actually a pet. “There was an ad for a ’68 Shelby Mustang for $4,000,” Johnson said. “Anyone who knows anything about cars knows there is no way that could be true.” But there was probably never an actual car for sale in the first place, Johnson said. Johnson said one popular way for scammers to work classifieds is to respond to an ad, have someone pick up the item or have it shipped to a fake address and pay the sellers with a fraudulent cashiers check or stolen credit card. And these scams don’t just rip off the customers, the CMNM advertising department is getting scammed, too. Johnson said that in December alone, the CMNM classifieds department has seen approximately $1,000 of charge backs from credit card companies stating that the ads paid for were fraudulent. In most cases, Johnson said, the ads were placed with stolen credit card numbers. “In the end, you’re out whatever you’re selling, you owe the money back from the check you’ve cashed and we (CMNM) are charged for the ad they ran,” Johnson said.The CMNM Classified Center is responsible for taking classified ads for six daily newspapers and several weeklies in Mesa, Pitkin, Garfield, Summit, Eagle, Lake and Grand counties. The Better Business Bureau serving northern Colorado and east-central Wyoming released a list of the most common scams including the popular Nigerian scams of all types, such as foreign lotteries and sweepstakes, overpayment, foreclosure scams, online business and college grants, and the ever popular work-from-home scams. “We see a lot of the work-from-home-scams,” Johnson said. “If you ever have to pay a fee for someone to hire you, it’s probably a scam.” If there’s no permanent address or office, or if there is only an e-mail address and no phone number, those are dead-give away of a scam, Johnson said. According to the BBB, tips to identifying a scam are simple. Horrible grammar and spelling, up-front payments or fees, requests for your personal information and quick action required are all signs of a scam. The majority of scams in the classified section of the Post Independent are caught before they are printed, Johnson said. But she added, because placing ads online has become so easy and popular, every once in a while, one slips through. “It’s really escalated in the past couple of years,” Johnson said. There is a daily “Seller Beware” notice in the classified section of the local papers to notify sellers of the dangers. And it really comes down to one thing according to Johnson. “Like they say, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” Johnson said.
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