Police Warning To Users Of Internet Auction Sites

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Police Warning To Users Of Internet Auction Sites

Gloucestershire police are urging members of the public to be wary of a scam being employed by criminals on popular Internet auction websites.

Officers have received several reports from members of the public who have had large sums of money stolen from them after they attempted to sell items via the web.

The scam works by offenders selecting an item online, usually a high value item such as a car or motorbike, and agreeing to buy it for the seller's price.

The offender then sends the seller a fake bankers draft for more than the agreed sum, sometimes several thousand pounds more, and asks the seller to transfer the difference to a third party account or address.

The scam relies on the fact that banks will show a cheque in the seller's account before checks to determine if it's fraudulent or not can be carried out.

PC John Loveridge, of the Cotswolds and Stroud Division Crime Management Unit, said the scam was a quick and easy way for criminals to make large amounts of money.

"If, for example, someone has an item on sale for 3,000 the offender will send them a bankers draft for, say, 7,000, and ask the seller to transfer the 4,000 difference to a third party for 'shipping' or other reasons," he said.

"Victims are usually asked to do this via an agency such as Western Union so the transaction is instant.

"The unwary seller, thinking they will be reimbursed, transfers their own money to the account specified by the offender. It is only later, when the bankers draft is found to be fake, they realise they have effectively helped a thief to thousands of pounds of their own cash."

PC Loveridge urged users of Internet auction sites to take extreme care when using them.

"Users should read the security advice given on these websites thoroughly, and check out prospective buyers and sellers as much as possible before committing to a deal," he said.

"If something seems unusual or too good to be true, trust your instincts and alert the police or the website.

"There is often little recourse for victims of Internet fraud. In lots of cases addresses or accounts given by offenders are based overseas, making it extremely difficult for police in the UK to trace and apprehend those responsible."

Posted : 20/10/2006 15:39:14

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