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What to watch for when doing business online

What to watch for when doing business online

By Daniel Gutierrez. CREATED Mar 18, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Making a little extra cash online is easy these days. But the next time you sell something over the web, make sure you know who you're doing business with.  

"I wound up buying a new Mustang. So I didn't need it. It was a '99 Cadillac El Dorado," says Ed Pluta.
 
The Boulder City resident recently found himself looking to get rid of a car. And he knew he wanted to go online to sell it.
 
"Done quite a bit of buying and selling on Craigslist," says Ed.
 
He posted an ad last month, and says he heard from nearly a dozen people who expressed some interest. But one potential buyer seemed especially eager to buy.
 
"He sent me a text message to ask me if the car was still available," says Ed.
 
He says the interested buyer, who called himself Marlon, was willing to pay the asking price of $3,800.
 
"And then I got an email shortly after that, that said the money had been sent," says Ed.
 
But check this out. He got a lot more money than he expected.
 
According to an email from Marlon, he had put $4,900 in Ed's Paypal account. That's $1,100 more than the asking price. The extra money was sent because Marlon wanted the car shipped. Ed says, having sold cars online before, it wasn't an unusual request.
 
"They usually, they send me the money and when the guy shows up to pick up the car, I'd pay the shipper," says Ed.
 
But instead of paying someone in person, the email instructed Ed to wire the money to a pick up agent. Ed says he wasn't comfortable with the request, especially after looking for the money in Paypal.
 
"I had checked my account, and it wasn't there," says Ed.
 
He went on to cancel the deal, and then emailed Contact 13, to help get the word out.
 
"I just wanted to warn people of what could possibly happen. If anybody wants Western Union anything, you definitely need to check it all out first," says Ed.
 
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. Thieves like using wire services because it's virtually impossible to track down the money once it's sent. On its own website, Craigslist warns you should "never wire funds."
 
And beware of anyone who sends you money so quickly. Thieves will often move fast, hoping you'll fall for their scam, before you realize what's going on. Craigslist suggests you "deal locally with folks you can meet in person." 
 
And remember, if you've been the victim of a scam, we've got your back Las Vegas. Send us an email to 13investigates@ktnv.com and we'll see what we can do to help.