As people lead their lives during this era of Covid-19, fraudulent activities perpetrated against the public continues.  The simple task of selling furniture on OfferUp can cause an individual to be drawn into the web of the fraudster.   Also, today individuals’ use of applications designed to move money quickly can contribute to the fraud. 
Scenario: An individual (victim) offered furniture for sale for $900 on the OfferUp app.  The victim was contacted by a buyer (scammer) and was moved quickly off OfferUp to email and text.  The first transaction was consummate on a Wednesday with receipt of a check image drawn on a third party company for $1,500 for a $300 purchase.  The excess funds were to be transferred to the furniture movers at other email addresses.  The victim waited till Thursday when she checked her bank account, and it showed the $1,500 check “cleared.”  At that time, she transferred $1,000 to the “movers” though the bank’s mobile app.  On Friday, the scammer called back and wanted the remaining furniture.  The exchange of funds was again by email with the receipt of an image of a check from the same third party company in excess of the amount of the purchase. The victim used mobile banking through her bank, which allowed the victim’s email address or mobile phone number to be tied to her bank account and the Zelle Network app.  The service partners with the financial institutions to transferred money quickly.  The mobile transfer of funds was to other third parties email addresses and two additional bank accounts. The victim sent her payment of $1,350 to the scammer, and on Saturday, when she checked her account, she received a notice that the check was fraudulent.  She attempted to stop the payment, but her bank told her to contact Zelle, which was closed for the weekend.  On Monday, the full extent of the fraud $2,350 was realized, and the victim’s bank could not recover the funds.

The Red Flags of Fraud that were missed by the victim include the following:

  1. Dealing with a stranger and trusting them with her money.
  2. Receiving a check from a third party company for payment to a business of a different name.  
  3. Receiving a check for an excess amount that requires a refunded or payment to another third party (furniture movers) at a different email address and bank.
  4. Movers could only pick up the furniture on Sunday afternoon.