Police, business owners warn of Craigslist scammers

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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - In the current economic climate, it is no surprise many people go online to get a deal, but police in Corbin said people should be careful.

They said folks people have met on Craigslist have ended up taking their money and running. Police and business owners said they have some tips on how to be techno-savvy shoppers.

“Online purchasing, it is the future,” said Larry D. Parrott, owner of Parrott’s Motor Sports, LLC in London, Ky.
“We have been doing it for the past four years.”

Parrott said it is the way more and more people are shopping.

“We do several hundred thousands of dollars worth of sales on the internet,” said Parrott.

Police said to be cautious.

“We have had four or five incidents of people meeting up on Craigslist and things happen, they get robbed or don't get their items or get fake items,” said Major Robert Jones of the Corbin Police Department.

Jones said the scam reports they have received often involved high ticket items.

“People have showed up to buy vehicles, they have had large amounts of money in their pockets and then when they get there, the vehicle is not there, people get robbed,” said Jones.

One businessman said he has had people try to scam others using his stuff.

“Say an e-bay ad I have, they will copy and paste it, and they will take all of my personal stuff out but it will be my unit on my floor on my lot, then they take my VIN number and then they change the price,” said Parrott.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Parrott said he had seen one of his $7,000 vehicles in scam ad on Craigslist which was being offered for $3,000.

"I see it all the time," said Parrott.

Police said they were not advocating against people buying things online but they said you need to be careful and meet in a public place where there are others around.

“Meet in a crowded place, take somebody with you,” said Jones.
“Most definitely, if you are going to trade for a vehicle or something like that, meet at the police department, meet at the courthouse.”

Jones said there were even more reasons why a police station would be the best place to engage in business with unfamiliar people.

“Most police departments have cameras, that way if it happens, the police can see it on camera and police will have a much better chance of running them down and helping you get your money back,” said Jones.

Parrott, a frequent e-Bay seller said it is important to verify before you pay.

“I use e-Bay a lot because it offers protection, but Craigslist, you don’t get that protection,” said Parrott.
“You do not want to wire money, that is just something, you do not want to send it Western Union.”
He said it was important to ask for specifics when purchasing an item such as a vehicle.

“Ask for a photo of the title,” said Parrott.
“Because if they don't have that unit, the chances are they are not going to have any access to that title.”

Parrott said another idea would be to ask them a picture of the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN.

Parrott and Jones said it was better to be safe than sorry.

Business owners said many of the scams have been from the West Coast. They said people should always talk to someone on the phone instead of emailing them. They also said to always wait for payment on a cashier’s check, because many of them end up cold. They also said if you are having something shipped, make sure to get an actual return address, not just a P.O. Box.

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