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Over the past week, the Consumer Hotline has received two complaints about a scam on Craigslist where buyers are scamming sellers out of money and their personal information.

Callers reported being scammed when trying to sell an item on Craigslist. Online buyers would offer to buy the seller’s item and then send them a check for way too much money—two  or three times the correct amount. They then followed up with a letter saying “Oops, I sent too much money! I need you to write me a check back to cover the difference.” The problem is the original check they wrote was fraudulent and they now have the seller’s money and personal information.

The Office of Consumer Affairs advises victims of this scam to contact law enforcement and U.S. Postal Inspectors (1-877-876-2455) to report what happened. The OCA also offers some preventative tips and advice on how to avoid scams like this:

  • Consumers must understand that as sellers on Craigslist, they are under no obligation to put themselves in a vulnerable position where they are giving away personal information.
  • It is fine for sellers to refuse strange requests that could compromise their own financial security.
  • Sellers on craigslist should be skeptical of any requests for a check, bank account information, or any other extra steps that are not part of a normal transaction.

Sellers should always feel free to say no, and know that they can contact The Office of Consumer Affairs if they aren’t sure what to do. The Consumer Hotline can be reached at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

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