DATCP: Craigslist buyer using fake Wisconsin Department of Revenue checks

Contact: Janet Jenkins (608) 224-4920

MADISON–Counterfeit Wisconsin Department of Revenue checks are being used by at least one “purchaser” to pay for items sold through Craigslist.

“It appears that this is another fake check scam used to cheat consumers out of their money,” says Janet Jenkins, Trade and Consumer Protection division administrator with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “This fraud has been around for a long time but, every now and then there is a new twist which in this case, seems to be the use of fake Department of Revenue checks.”

In this particular version of the fake check fraud, the person committing the fraud pretends to want to buy something that is for sale on Craigslist. This “purchaser” contacts a seller and arranges a sale. The fraudulent purchaser then sends a check to the seller in an amount that is greater than the selling price. The purchaser asks the seller to promptly deposit the check and to send the extra amount back to the “purchaser” using a money order.

The check issued to the seller ultimately bounces but, by that time the seller has already sent the money order. Neither the Wisconsin Department of Revenue nor the financial institution that cashed or deposited the fake check has any liability for the scam. The seller is the person who ends up losing money.

Consumer Protection offers a few simple tips to help consumers to avoid fake check scams:

* If someone sends you a check for more than the amount you’re owed, the chances that it is a fake check scam are very high.

* Anyone who asks you to wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service this is almost certainly a scammer.

* With today’s computer technology, fake checks, including cashiers checks, and fake money orders are easy to make. If the name of the check issuer seems at all odd, talk to your financial institution.

* Make certain that the financial institution in which you deposited the check has actually received the money for the check before sending your money to someone else. The fact that the financial institution cashes the check does not necessarily mean that the institution has received the money for the check. Again, talk to your financial institution.

For more information or to report an incident, contact:

Barbara Brandt

Wisconsin Department of Revenue

P.O. Box 8933

Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0286