Las Cruces – In the past couple of weeks Las Cruces Police have received a handful of reports of fraud or deceit that were initiated by classified ads on the Internet, specifically on Craigslist.
At least two Las Cruces residents have been victims of scams after responding to ads seeking babysitting services. Another victim was duped into a "romantic relationship" on Facebook and sent hundreds of dollars to the perpetrator using Western Union services.
Possibly the most popular scam reported asks the victim to accept a check for more than the agreed-upon amount. The victim is then asked to deposit the check, and return or forward the balance using Western Union. In nearly every case the perpetrator's check is a counterfeit or otherwise fraudulent.
Perpetrators often use Western Union because those transactions are difficult to track.
The Las Cruces Police Department suggests following these and other safety precautions:
Do not offer to deposit money into your bank account - or an overseas bank account - in exchange for keeping some of the proceeds.
Be skeptical of claims from "long-lost relatives," or someone representing an incarcerated friend, in need of monetary assistance.
Use Western Union services only when transferring funds to someone you know and trust.
Remember that if a transaction appears too good to be true, it probably is.
When possible, conduct business in person and in a safe location.
Do not supply credit card or social security numbers over the telephone, or via the Internet, unless you're positive of whom you're communicating with.
When making a secure purchase over the Internet, use a credit card - not a debit card - as credit card transactions are easier to dispute if necessary.
Be cautious of unsolicited inquiries, telephone calls, e-mail or text messages.
Periodically check your credit report from all three reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).
Report to the police all incidents of suspected fraud.