Safe from Scams: Bad checks and online buying

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The internet and auction sites make shopping easy for buyers, sellers, and unfortunately scam artists. (KFSN)

The internet and auction sites make shopping easy for buyers, sellers, and unfortunately scam artists and the schemes often involve fake checks.

"He said, 'I'm going to order this particular picture called Blue Moon, and I'm going to be sending you a check,'" said Dan Mihalko.

Mihalko is an artist who sells his pieces online. He thought the email seemed pretty strange since his site is straight forward. "It's a very simple process. You order something, I mail it to you. Now, we're making it complicated. He wants to send a check."

Mihalko is also a retired Postal Inspector. "Having had a career in law enforcement, I'm pretty skeptical of things to begin with, and this one started to jump out right away."

The piece cost $400 but the customer sent a check for $1,950.00. "He's saying, I'm not only going to send you a check for the amount of the painting, I'm going to add more on because I'm going to have a mover come and pick it up," said Mihalko.

The customer said he lived in California. The check had a Texas address but the envelope was posted in Georgia. Now, Mihalko knew it was a scam. Initially, he stalled the customer in order to report his email address to the internet provider. But, the customer kept asking him to deposit the check and return the money leftover, which is key to the scam. "They're going to go through the initial gate at the bank. But, the problem is once they finally go through to the federal reserve, then they will be found counterfeit. The bank is going to get it back, you're going to be charged back, you're going to be out of the money." said Mihalko.

"Do your due diligence. Ask for a cashier's check when you are corresponding with these individuals, especially if they are strangers," said Dominique Giroux, US Postal Inspector.

Postal inspectors want consumers to know if they are buying or selling anything and asked to wire any money back, it's likely a scam.
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