The advanced fee scam, involving bogus checks, is a tried a true winner for criminals trying to cheat unsuspecting consumers. Now, police in suburban Chicago say it's showing up in a new venue -- an online real estate site.
The scam frequently uses a phony lottery to swindle its victims. They are told they've won a large cash prize, but are required to pay an advance fee to get their winnings.
Victims are sent a check to cover the fee and are told to deposit it in their account before sending a check for the same amount. The check they've deposited is fake, but it doesn't bounce until after they've sent money to the scammer.
In the new incarnation of the scam, police in Sugar Grove, Illinois say at least two residents were targeted after listing their home on forsalebyowner.com, a Web site for people selling homes themselves.
The scammer sent a large check as a deposit and as a payment for the buyer's broker. The homeowners were instructed to deposit the check and send the broker a portion of the money.
The "broker," of course, is the scammer. The check he sends the victim is a fake. The scam has also been used to ensnare people selling cars and trucks online.