Police remind citizens to be aware of scams

Monday, August 2, 2010 | 12:47 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Columbia Police officers have continued to receive calls about fraudulent activity this summer. They advise citizens to be careful and familiarize themselves with common scams.

There were four incidents in June and three in July involving fraudulent checks and money orders.

Officers received a report of an e-mail scam on July 23. A woman received checks in the mail to be a "secret shopper." She was instructed to keep part of the money as payment, but send the rest back through Western Union. The checks were fraudulent.

Another woman reported fraud on July 12. She had listed her embroidery machine on Craigslist in order to sell it. She was contacted by a buyer who sent her a check for more than the machine was listed for. She was told to keep the extra money, but later asked to send the extra money via Western Union to a location in Florida. The check turned out to be fraudulent.

On July 10, a woman reported fraud after an attempt to purchase an English bull dog off the internet. She sent money for the dog to International Cargo Movers Co. via Western Union. After some research, the woman determined the company was fraudulent.

“Regardless of the source, whether it be over the phone or internet, or through the mail, these scams are all called advance-fee scams," said Officer Jessie Haden, in a news release. "You do not have to pay any fee for lottery or sweepstakes winnings before receiving your winnings.  You do not have to pay money ahead of time if you are a "mystery shopper.'"

Haden advises those with doubt about a transaction to run it past the police department first.

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