CREATED Jul. 26, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Plenty of people go online these days to sell their stuff and make some extra money. But don't let the thought of earning some cash, blind you from seeing the red flags.
"You put an ad on Craigslist. Why?" asked Contact 13's Tricia Kean.
"Actually it was to sell this little computer. Didn't really need it," said Jane Nelson of Henderson.
Nelson said she buys and sells things online all the time. Just last month she posted an ad, hoping to get $300 for her laptop.
"The next day after I put it on Craigslist, they answered me back and said that they were interested," said Jane.
The buyer, named Sarah, wanted to use PayPal, an online company that handles money transfers. Jane said that was convenient for her, since she already has a PayPal account.
"I was like cha-ching. That will work," said Jane.
But when she got a text message, she said something didn't seem right. Sarah was offering $450. That's $150 more than the asking price, "That's what threw me off. I was like $450."
Within hours, she got a PayPal email, telling her the money had been put in her account. That's when Sarah started texting Jane over and over again about getting the computer.
"When did I ship it? When did I ship it? And I'm like, I didn't ship it yet," said Jane.
Feeling uneasy about the deal, she decided to call PayPal to confirm the transaction. That's when Jane said she found out, the PayPal email is actually fake, and there wasn't really any money in her account.
"How does this make you feel about doing business online?" asked Tricia. "Well it's kind of scary," said Jane.
"Deal in person with cash. That's the best way to know that you are receiving legitimate funds," said Katie Robison with the Better Business Bureau.
She said online thieves are getting clever. Other scams they've seen include paying with a fake check. In the end the scammer is hoping to get the items you're selling, all for free.
"If you ever receive high pressure sales or buying tactics, take a step back. There's a reason for that high pressure. They're trying to get you to miss some important detail," said Katie.
Jane said she wants to make sure no one doing business online falls victim to a scam.
"Be careful about who you're dealing with. If you're in doubt like I was, call PayPal," said Jane.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: Do your homework. Just like Jane learned, it pays off when you take time to confirm information.
Also look for red flags in any email or text. In this case, there were several grammar mistakes, like the subject line that reads "You've got a new funds!" Plus the PayPal notice she got didn't even come from a PayPal email address.
And if you're still not sure, then send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can do to help.