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Important Fraud Alert:
Online For-Sale Scams

Buyer beware! Online "For Sale" networks inevitably attract scam artists. Protect yourself from common online frauds by recognizing the telltale signals of these scams:

  • "Fertile Egg" Scam

    Parties claiming to sell fertile parrot eggs are ripping you off. Please report these posts to the webmaster.

  • The Cashier's Check Scam

    Cashier's check scammers are easy to spot, if you know what to look for. Since most of the syndicate is foreign they often use tortured English. Although they often operate from Africa (especially Nigeria and Cameroon) they may pretend to be from Europe, Israel, Canada - even the US - wherever they find an unprotected proxy server to hack into.

    If you use common sense in transacting with others you can protect yourself from most common traps.

    How to spot an international scam:

    • BEWARE OF PAYMENT BY CASHIER'S OR "CERTIFIED" CHECKS! A notorious international syndicate (usually associated with Nigeria) specializes in skillful counterfeit cashier's checks. They often offer to (or "mistakenly") send more money than the item you offered costs. You are expected to deposit their cashier's check, and refund them the difference when you ship your item. Your bank will only discover the frauds weeks after you deposit them, when you are then charged the full amount of the check - usually thousands of dollars. Not only are you out the item you shipped, but you have to pay for their bogus check too.

      Please read this important message from the Michigan Attorney General's Office:

    Important Fraud Alert:
    Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scam

    The Nigerian Counterfeit Cashier's Check Scam involves a response to an online offer to sell or auction goods (usually expensive items). Here is how the new scam may unfold:

    • The con artist "buyer" emails the seller to express interest in the item, offering to pay with a U.S. bank cashier's check.
    • Once the offer is accepted, the "buyer" makes some excuse for sending a cashier's check that is several thousand dollars more than the cost of the item and wants the seller to send excess money: 1) to cover transportation costs for the purchased good; 2) because the buyer's secretary made a mistake and put the wrong check in the envelope; 3) with the purchased product; or 4) to a third party to cover an existing debt.
    • Credibility is added to the ploy when the "buyer" insists that the money only be sent after the cashier's check clears.
    • The cashier's check is an elaborate counterfeit and it takes the bank longer than usual to discover the fake.
    • The seller thinks they have received a good check and sends the good and the “extra” cash.
    • The bank notifies the seller the cashier’s check is a counterfeit and removes the check amount from the seller’s account. The seller lost the goods and cash.
    Counterfeit Cashier’s Check Alert

    Consumers must be alert to the fact that just because money from the check may be made quickly available doesn't mean a check is valid. The check must go back to the originating bank and it must clear. This process can take several days and, in the case of an elaborate counterfeit, may take a few weeks.

    Report Nigerian Fraud Attempts

    If you or any member of your family has been a victim of any form of the Nigerian scam, contact the United States Secret Service, the lead agency fighting this fraud at 202-406-5572. If you receive an email relating to advanced fee fraud, please forward the email to the Secret Service at:

    If you receive a letter in the mail, you may send or fax it to:

      U.S. Secret Service
      Financial Crimes Division
      950 H. Street, NW
      Suite 5300
      Washington, DC 20223
      Fax: (202) 406-6930

    If the scheme targets a United States resident but involves a Canadian address or phone number, inform PhoneBusters by sending an email to or calling toll-free 1-888-495-8501.

    From the Michigan Attorney General's Office.