Counterfeit Checks Used to Purchase Livestock on the Internet
(Pierre) – Livestock producers that are marketing their stock via the Internet are falling prey to a variation of an old scam. South Dakotans who have advertised horses for sale on the Internet have been contacted by prospective “buyers” in Africa wanting to purchase their horses. After corresponding by e-mail, a price is agreed upon and the payment is sent via certified check. The check is usually a few thousand dollars more than the price of the horse. The buyer gives a variety of reasons why the check is for more money, but usually explains that the extra money is to ship the horse to Nigeria in Africa. The seller is asked to deposit the check and then refund the difference to the buyer via Western Union. After several days, the certified check that the seller deposited is returned as counterfeit and the seller has to reimburse the bank for the entire amount of the counterfeit check. The seller loses whatever money that they refunded to the buyer via Western Union as well as having to advertise and sell their livestock again. The checks are generally written for $5,500 to $6,000 with a loss to the livestock seller of $3,000 to $4,000 per incident. Fraudulent Nigerian scams have been around for many years and are increasingly taking advantage of the Internet to solicit and defraud victims via e-mail.
If you have been a victim of this fraudulent scam contact the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Protection at (605) 773-4400 or in-state only at (800) 300-1986.