When fully examined, the scam is clever, though a bit clunky in its delivery. And for this particular long con to work, the victim needs to have an item on Craigslist or a similar online person-to-person marketplace.
In the case of Graham resident Milinda Weldon, she had an item for sale on Craigslist that she preferred not to identify, but did say that she was asking $500 for it. She received a text message on July 29 from a person calling herself “Jennifer Melcon,” who requested that Weldon take the desired item down from Craigslist as a way of putting it on hold.
“She said she’d give me $50 if I’d take it off Craigslist,” Weldon related.
Melcon then sent Weldon an email saying that she would pay an extra $100 for the inconvenience. Melcon told Weldon that she would send her a check for $2,000. Once the check cleared, Weldon was to take $1,200 out of her account, go to a CVS pharmacy store, put that money into a Green Dot card (which is basically like a prepaid credit card), and then email Melcon the PIN number to that card. The $1,200 was to pay for the cost of shipping the item Weldon was selling.
“Over and over, I kept telling her that I’m not comfortable with this,” Weldon said. “‘I don’t want to sell it. I’m going to sell it locally,’ I would tell her. But she continued on sending me emails about how the check has been issued out, and sure enough, I did receive a $2,000 check from her.”
For all intents and purposes, the check Melcon sent to Weldon looked real, especially to someone not trained in spotting fakes. It even has an official-looking water mark.
Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.