Resident does homework, avoids scam

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    Local authorities urge residents to use caution when considering making an online purchase.

    Patrick County Sheriff’s investigator Danny Martin said a county resident recently saw an online ad for a vehicle, in this case, a 2001 Toyota Tacoma for the listed price of $1,500.

    The county resident was interested in the truck and contacted the seller, Martin said, and added photos of the truck were sent to the local resident, who also requested the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

    The resident “found that most trucks like this are selling for at least $6,000,” and when the resident asked why the price was so low, Martin said he was told the truck had belonged to a 26-year-old family member who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Texas.

    The seller also told the name of the deceased family member, and allegedly said “they just couldn’t stand to look at the truck,” Martin said.

    At some point in the e-mail conversation, the seller stated their age as 40 years-old, and requested that payment for the truck be made by Green Dot cards, Martin said of a type of debit card. The buyer also was asked to give the number of the cards to the seller, who alleged they were in North Carolina, he said.

    The buyer asked to see the truck before finalizing the purchase, but was told the vehicle was in a storage facility in Oklahoma, according to Martin.

    The potential buyer happened to recall that many scams may involve Green Dot cards, Martin said, and added the county resident also remembered “our advice that if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s probably a scam.”

    The county resident tried to verify the authenticity of the ad before spending any money, Martin said, and added the resident found the VIN belonged to a Toyota Tacoma of a different color, which was located on a used car lot.

    In addition, the person who was killed in the motorcycle accident was actually 46, not 26 as the resident was told, Martin said.

    The local resident soon received a call from the seller, asking whether he was going to buy the truck, Martin said.

    But armed with information from his research, the county resident “told the seller that he was no longer interested, but the Sheriff’s Office was very interested,” Martin said, and added the seller “immediately hung up the phone.”

    The listing was removed shortly after, and the seller’s e-mail address was no longer valid, Martin said. “Please do your homework before spending your hard-earned money.”