If you're thinking about posting a resume on Monster.com or selling an item on Craigslist.com, there's a scam Los Angeles police warn is costing victims thousands of dollars.
The troubles started for Lee Ryder soon after he posted his resume on Monster.com. He was contacted about a sales job, but something seemed odd when he received a paycheck for more than expected.
"It was a $7,500 check - $2,500 for the first week's pay," Ryder said.
Then, they asked Ryder to return the rest – a refund request of $5,000.
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"What ends up happening is the seller will actually send the money, their own personal money, and then realize later that the check was fraudulent," said Officer Julie Sohn of LAPD's Digital Media Unit.
Internet scams, like this one, are happening often, Sohn said. The police department has dedicated a team of officers to fight the growing wave of Internet crime and identity theft.
The scam artists are targeting job hunters and sellers on popular websites, posing as employers or buyers and send a check for more than the agreed amount.
"It could be a couple hundred to a couple thousands of dollars to the seller,” Sohn said. “So you're thinking, 'Wow this is great!' and then the buyer backtracks and says, 'Hey, I gave you too much money can you send me the difference?’"
Once that happened to Ryder, he became suspicious and checked with the bank. He learned the check number was out of sequence, so he didn't send any money. He also realized the offer was a scam.
"I was really disappointed. I wanted a job. I needed a job," Ryder said.
Police say Internet users can protect themselves by asking for references to make sure the buyer is legitimate. If you receive a check, police say it's wise to call the bank to verify the funds.
If you or your family have been the victim of a scam, it's important to report it. Call police or visit the Internet crime reporting website IC3.gov.