Parish resident scammed out of $4K on Facebook

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Washington Parish resident was recently scammed out of more than $4,000, according to Chief Deputy Mike Haley of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Haley said that the scam began when the resident searched a buy, sale or trade group on Facebook and saw a vehicle advertised at an undervalued price, a price that seemed too good to be true.

The resident made a Facebook inquiry and was informed that the person on Facebook was selling the vehicle for his sister who was in the military and needed to sell the vehicle quickly. The seller stated that a previous attempt to sell the vehicle on eBay was unsuccessful and supplied an email address, as well as the name “Martha Shelton from Omaha, Neb.,” to the prospective buyer. After a series of email exchanges and price negotiations, the resident agreed to purchase the vehicle.

Haley said that the resident was instructed to send funds to purchase the vehicle. This was done and then the resident was asked to send additional funds to purchase insurance for the vehicle while it was in transit. The resident became suspicious at this point and checked with eBay, learning that the vehicle had never been listed there, Haley said. A check of the original Facebook advertisement found that it had been deleted and no contact information was available.

At this point, having sent more than $4,000 to purchase a vehicle which did not exist, and realizing that she had been scammed out of her money, the resident contacted the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office. Haley said that detectives followed up on the reported crime, but were unable to solve it since most crimes of this type originate overseas and the cash was likely overseas as well and unable to be traced. Detectives then followed the only option available to them and forwarded information about the scam to the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it likely isn’t true,” Washington Parish Randy Seal said. “Never, never, never send money to anyone you do not know, especially if your only contact with them is through social media. There are plenty of people, both domestic and foreign, who have absolutely no conscience and will tell any lie to cheat you out of your hard-earned money.

“These thieves continue to fabricate new schemes designed to do only one thing, and that is to steal from honest people. Please take every precaution to make certain that you are not their next victim.”