Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Deal with people you can meet in person, locally – By far, this is the best way to avoid any scam.
  • Never wire money via WesternUnion, MoneyGram or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • Fake cashier's checks and money orders are common scams. Banks will cash them and hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • Never give out financial information (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
  • Avoid dealings involving shipping and escrow services and know that only a scammer will guarantee your transaction.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

  • FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • SD Office of the Attorney General
    1302 E Hwy 14 Suite 1
    Pierre, SD 57501-8501
    Phone (Routine Business): (605) 773-3215
  • If you think an ad on KELOLAND Classifieds might be a scam, please email and please include the URL or Web address of the ad.

Recognizing Scams

Most scams involve one or more of the following:

  • Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country
  • Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"
  • Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before completing transaction

Examples of Scams

Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check:

  • You receive an email offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment.
  • Cashier's check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for just about anything else of value.
  • Value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item - scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
  • Banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
  • Scam often involves a third-party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc.)

Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:

  • Scam "bait" items include apartments, laptops, plasma TVs, cell phones, tickets - but could be almost anything.
  • Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
  • Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere.
  • Apartment listing may be local, but landlord/owner is "traveling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad.
  • Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, rent is below market, etc.

Distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:

  • This is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE.
  • Sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not.
  • Scammer often asks for your name, address, etc. for printing on the fake check.
  • Deal often seems too good to be true.

Distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service:

  • Most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers.
  • For more info, do a Google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud."

Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods:

  • He says he trusts you with the partial payment.
  • He may say he has already shipped the goods.
  • Deal often sounds too good to be true.

Foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds:

  • Foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly.
  • You are typically offered a percentage of payments received.
  • This kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email.

Actual Email Received from a scammer

This email was received by one of our KELOLAND Classifieds users that was selling a desk.

The Seller responded telling this scammer that they would accept cash only, asked where they were located and even said they would not sell to them.

The Scammer replied.

The Seller gave out an address and asked when the item would be picked up.

The Scammer replied.

The Seller replied that they would not send any money to a shipper and was only accept cash.

The Scammer replied.

The Seller replied that they would not wire any money to a shipper, and asked again where they were located.

The Scammer replied.

The Seller asks why their questions aren't being answered and suspects a scam.

The Scammer replied.

The Seller again asks for more information about the payment, shipping company, and their location.

The Scammer replied.

The Seller again asks for upfront information.

The Scammer replied.

At this time the Seller contacts KELOLAND TV and is informed this is a very common scam. The Seller recieved an envelope from the Scammer with a cashier's check made out for $1500 for an item they were selling for $50. Under advisement from KELOLAND TV, the Seller told the Scammer that the item was no longer for sale.

The Scammer replied.

These checks look REAL, but they are FAKE. DO NOT CASH THEM! If you get any email that looks similar to this, just delete it, never respond.

Here is another good site for tips to protect yourself against fraud.