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April 26, 2005

Another online fraud gambit

Here's the latest scam out of Nigeria, Ghana and Eastern Europe. You sell something online, and in return receive a money order, or someone offers you a fee for cashing a money order. The only problem is, the money orders are counterfeit.

In the US, they've discovered fake money orders have replaced dud cheques as the currency of choice for online scammers. According to postal inspectors, more than 3,700 counterfeit postal money orders to the value of millions of dollars were intercepted from October to December last year, exceeding the total for the previous 12 months.

The forgeries were pretty good ones, despite the fact that the postal money order is generally regarded as one of the more difficult financial documents to counterfeit because of its watermarks, security threads and a rainbow of inked patterns and tones.

They have been received by small Internet retailers, classified advertisers or others lured into an Internet confidence scheme, from sellers of Siberian Husky puppies in Iowa to art dealers in Indiana. Some consumers, authorities say, are simply not using common sense.

At least one of the victims, Kevin McCrary, a 56-year-old Manhattan business consultant, agrees. He signed up for an international dating site, and just a week after beginning his correspondence with someone claiming to be a young Nigerian woman, helped her buy a laptop for $1500. As soon as he received two postal notes in payment, he shipped the laptop off to Nigeria. His comment:

"I couldn't reach around far enough to kick myself."

Posted by cw at April 26, 2005 04:15 PM

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