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The original item was published from 8/15/2014 3:19:30 PM to 2/9/2015 11:29:47 AM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: July 30, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Suspicious Checking Transactions

On July 29th, 2014, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office received a call from
a citizen reporting a suspicious checking transaction. The reporting citizen relayed that
he had attempted to sell used tires on the website “”. The seller was
contacted by a buyer who agreed to purchase the tires at the asking price. The buyer
advised the seller that he would make the payment via personal check, and after payment
was cleared, the buyer would pick up the tires. A check was received by the seller for the
tires, but had a value greater than the agreed upon purchase price. The seller contacted
the buyer to inquire about the discrepancy. The buyer suggested the seller refund the
overpayment upon transfer of the tires. Ultimately, the check was determined to be a
fictitious draft.

Although there are many variations similar to this scheme, citizens should remember to
protect themselves from potential fraud as this citizen did. Common variations of this
scheme may include fictitious “Pay Pal” accounts set up in such a way as to confuse the
seller into sending the goods prior to the payment being received. In some instances, the
payment provided is written on stolen checkbooks or, as in this case, is a completely
fictitious document.

In this particular incident, the buyer attempted to cause the seller to cash a fictitious
check. Should the transaction be completed by the financial institution, the buyer keeps
the proceeds (which in this case could have included refunded overage payment) and the
seller (if detected at a later date) is suspected of committing fraud. If the transactions are
recognized by the financial institution as fraudulent, again the seller is suspected of
committing fraud, and the buyer may walk away undetected.

When conducing transactions in this manner, please take steps to protect yourself from
fraud. If you receive a payment for goods that is above what is expected, please treat this
transaction with the appropriate level of scrutiny. Should you become victim to a fraud,
please contact your local authorities or the Humboldt County District Attorney Fraud
Hotline at 1-800-962-8261.

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