Consumer Alert: Watch for scams when shopping online

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Whenever you buy something online from a person or company you don't know, be careful. If you're not, you could end up losing at lot of money.

John still can't believe he lost $1,300 in a Craig's List scam.

"I was in search of parts for my Suzuki motorcycle ...I do a lot of internet shopping," says John. John found the parts he wanted on Craig's list at 40% cheaper than the usual price. The seller asked to be paid with money orders.

"This is the money order. One for $1,000 and the other for $300," says John.

John sent the money overnight and was told the parts would be sent immediately. Days turned into weeks and then months. At first, he gave the seller the benefit of the doubt.

"I thought maybe he's not trying to scam me and just fell on hard times," says John.

"The buyer was left waiting and waiting for part that were never going to come," says Gil Webb, U.S. Postal Inspector.

"I felt like someone broke into my house and robbed my house," says John.

Postal inspectors say, as more and more people shop online, the number of scams are growing.

"The mindset of the scammer in this case is they want money and they don't care what it takes to get it. It's a very emotionless crime... they're just very greedy," says Webb.

Inspectors say consumers need to be cautious buying online.

"It's a red flag when the seller only wants to communication with you through emails because emails can be very anonymous," says Webb.

In this case, the seller was eventually arrested and is serving jail time for scamming 15 people.

"The fact that he is in jail is a victory, not only for me, but also for all of the other people who were scammed by him," says John.

John also sued the seller and was awarded more than $400,000 by a judge.

Authorities say you should try to create a paper trail, if possible, when buying online. They also say you need to try and get a good phone number from the person you are buying from.

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