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Rip-Off Alert: Get as much knowledge when buying online

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 7/31/2013 9:36 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- This is a Rip-Off Alert for online shoppers: Watch out when dealing with a person or company you're not familiar with. For one victim, it was a painful and pricey lesson.

The victim in this case, John, still can’t believe he lost $1,300 in a Craigslist scam.

“It seemed legit,” he said. “I was in search of parts for my Suzuki motorcycle, and I do a lot of Internet shopping.”

John found the parts he wanted on Craigslist 40 percent cheaper than the usual price. The seller asked to be paid with money orders.

John sent the money through overnight delivery service and was told the parts would be sent immediately. Days turned into weeks and then months. At first, he gave the seller the benefit of the doubt.

“I thought maybe he’s not trying to scam me and just fell on hard times,” he said. “I felt like someone broke into my house and robbed my house.”

“The buyer was left waiting and waiting for parts that were never going to come,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Gil Webb.

Postal inspectors say as more and more people shop online, the number of scams is growing.

“The mindset of the scammer in this case is they want money and they don’t care what it takes to get it,” Webb said. “It’s a very emotionless crime that … they‘re just very greedy.”

Inspectors say consumers need to be cautious buying online.

“It’s a red flag when the seller only wants to communication with you through emails because emails can be very anonymous,” Webb said.
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Eventually, the seller in this case, was arrested and is serving jail time for scamming John along with 14 other people.

“The fact that he is in jail is a victory – not only for me – but also for all of the other people who were scammed by him,” John said.

John also sued the seller and was awarded more than $4,000 by a judge.

Authorities say you should try to create a paper trail if possible when buying online so you have documentation of everything.

One more piece of advice is to try to get a good phone number for the person you are buying from.
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