Most of us believe the safest way to send or receive a large payment through the mail is with a cashier's check. It's as good as cash, right? Not necessarily. A Papillion couple learned that the hard way.
A bright yellow Corvette catches your eye and its owner is raising a caution flag over the sale of collector cars on the Internet. “When we got suspicious we did some research,” said scam victim Tom Yablonski. “We found a cashier's check is not as good as cash.” Tom and Dianne Yablonski put the 'vette up for sale on the Internet getting 1,500 lookers with one offering close to the asking price of $14,000. The buyer, claiming to be a broker, sent a cashier’s check for $18,700 saying it was from another deal that fell though, and he told the Yablonskis to just wire the difference to him in Nigeria. “Of course the cashier's check is bad and you've just wired your own money to them,” said Tom.
When Dianne later pulled up to an ATM to withdraw money, the machine spit her card back out, so she checked the balance and it said "negative $99 billion." “That's what they automatically do when an account goes into fraud status, so you can't withdraw money out of that account,” said Dianne.
The Yablonskis were not only scammed out of $4,700, they had to remove any suspicion from themselves and then open new bank accounts. “We're the ones that accepted the check, we didn't verify anything, but I still think banks need to have a policy to tell the customers, this still has to clear the banking system just like a regular check,” said Tom.
The bright yellow Corvette is back on the market, but any potential buyer offering to pay the Yablonskis with a cashier’s check will rev up their suspicions. “We won't take another cashier’s check without verifying those funds are good,” said Dianne.
In Iowa, the attorney general reports a half-dozen victims of a similar scam involving the sale of cars or pets over the Internet. People selling anything on-line should beware of cashier’s checks for more than the asking price from buyers who want money back, and be cautious of any deal involving someone overseas, particularly the country of Nigeria.