Online seller frustrated by flood of scammers instead of real buyers

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CARMEL, Ind. -- After trying for weeks to sell a piece of workout equipment online, a woman said she was fed up with incessant scammers.

Lugging the large total gym equipment around isn't easy, but Marlene Franco-Velez seems to be stuck with it after her attempts to sell it in an online post failed.

"I haven't had any legitimate people asking," Franco-Velez said.

Instead, Franco-Velez said four different scammers tried to trick her with the same fake story.

"(It's) the same, that they're all out of town and they all need a mover to come pick it up and put it in storage," Franco-Velez said.

Two of the scammers sent her checks, but Franco-Velez quickly figured out they weren't real.

"I was selling the (equipment) for $750. He sends me a check for $1950," Franco-Velez said. "Why would you buy a piece of used equipment and spend $1,000 for a mover to go somewhere and pick it up?"

CBS4 Problem Solvers tried to reach out to the man supposedly behind one of the scams, but a message said the phone only accepted texts and a message was not returned.

Here's what you need to know to spot a scam like these:

  • Beware a person who texts instead of calls
  • Watch for people who claim to be out of town during the sale
  • Don't accept a check through the mail from someone you don't know, even if appears to be from a real bank

Franco-Velez said she was lucky she caught the scams before it was too late, because she has family members who have fallen for other scams recently.

She took down her post and said she will likely try to sell the equipment offline.

"It certainly was a lesson, you know, that you do have to be careful," Franco-Velez said.

She also said she hoped to catch the scammers, but realized that is highly unlikely. Experts say most scammers online are from other countries, and are rarely caught.

"I really would like to get these people, I know that that’s probably not going to happen, but it just makes you angry," Franco-Velez said.

If you've been targeted by scammers, you should report it to agencies like law enforcement, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.

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