Las Cruces police are encouraging residents to be cautious when it comes to sharing financial and personal information with others.
Over the past few years police have seen an uptick in scams and fraudulent activity that’s resulted in victims losing hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars.
In one of the most recent scams, a 37-year-old Las Cruces man thought he was purchasing a travel trailer that was advertised for sale on OfferUp, a popular marketplace app that emphasizes customer-to-customer transactions.
The man communicated only electronically with the seller and agreed to pay $800, sight unseen, for a used travel trailer. The would-be buyer wired $800 in digital currency to the person he believed was the seller only to receive additional communication demanding another $800. The would-be buyer then realized he had been scammed.
Unfortunately, it is oftentimes difficult for law enforcement to track digital currency transactions. It is unlikely the victim in this case will recoup his $800.
The Las Cruces Police Department suggests following these and other safety precautions:
- Refrain from purchasing high-dollar items without first meeting with the seller and verifying the product’s authenticity.
- Do your homework, first and thoroughly, before completing any financial transaction.
- Do not offer to deposit or wire currency electronically.
- Use Western Union, and other electronic transfer services, only when transferring funds to someone you know and trust.
- When possible, conduct business in person and in a safe location.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash when meeting with a would-be seller. Cash transactions are best completed within the confines of a bank or trusted dealership.
- Do not provide credit card or financial information by telephone or electronically unless you are 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, texts or electronic messages.
- Remember that if a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is.
- Immediately report to police all incidents of suspected fraud.