Las Cruces Police are seeing what could be an increase in online shopping scams that have already defrauded area residents of hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of dollars.
In one of the most recent scams, a 37-year-old man from Las Cruces tried to buy a trailer that was advertised for sale on OfferUp, a popular marketplace app that rivals Craigslist and emphasizes client-to-client transactions.
The 37-year-old only communicated electronically with the seller and agreed to pay $ 800, visually, for a used trailer. The potential buyer wired the $ 800 in digital currency, in this case Bitcoin, to the seller. It wasn’t until the potential buyer received a communication from the seller demanding an additional $ 800 that they realized that the online ad was a scam.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult for law enforcement to keep track of digital currency transactions. It is highly unlikely that the victim in this case will get their $ 800 back.
The Las Cruces Police Department suggests following these and other precautions:
- Refrain from purchasing high priced items without first meeting the seller and verifying the authenticity of the product.
- Do your homework, first and thoroughly, before making any financial transactions.
- Do not offer to deposit or transfer currency electronically.
- Use Western Union and other electronic transfer services only when transferring funds to someone you know and trust.
- When possible, do business in person and in a safe place.
- Don’t carry large sums of cash when meeting a potential seller. Cash transactions are best done within the confines of a trusted bank or dealer.
- Do not provide credit card or financial information over the phone or electronically unless you know who you are contacting.
- When making a secure purchase on the internet, use a credit card – not a debit card – as credit card transactions are easier to dispute if necessary.
- Beware of unsolicited inquiries, phone calls, text messages, or email messages.
- Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Report all incidents of suspected fraud to the police immediately.