Hales Corners — When selling items on Craigslist, be mindful of who you're selling to, how they're buying your items and where you meet, Hales Corners police say.
In the wake of two scams involving buyers purchasing vehicles using counterfeit money — one in December for a $900 car and one recently of a $750 vehicle —Hales Corners Detective Justin Landry has some tips for buyers and sellers.
· Know your marks.
The counterfeit cases came from buyers printing $20 bills over washed $5 bills. To make certain your bill is a $20, hold it up to the light. Andrew Jackson's face should be in the far right as a watermark. Other denominations, like $50 bills and $100 bills have their respective portrait on the right-hand side in a watermark. Smaller bills, like $5 and $1, do not have any watermarks.
· Check the numbers.
Another way to verify if the money received is real currency, check the serial numbers in the lower right portion of the bill. According to Landry, many counterfeiters will make copies of the same bill. If a buyer sees the same number multiple times, it's a good sign the money is fake.
· Pick a public spot.
Landry said that the best place to make a Craigslist deal would be a police station. He added that the Hales Corners Police Department has no problem allowing people to conduct transactions in its lobby.
"It's a little bit safer and that way, if it is a counterfeit bill, you have us here," he added.
He cautioned against meeting in gas stations or fast-food places. Oftentimes people running scams have scoped the place out and made sure that the transaction won't be caught on surveillance video. The more public the place, the better.
Never make a sale in your home or give out your address, he added.
· Look for red flags.
Get the buyer's driver's license number and write it down for your notes, Landry said. Write down the license plate number of any vehicles that arrive for your transaction. If a buyer suspects something is fishy, Landry said, it would be a good idea for them to take a picture of the buyer or seller with a cellphone camera.
Landry said if the person is hesitant about giving over their identification, it's a red flag a scam may be afoot. Other red flags: if the other person is trying to rush the sale or if the item is being sold for far less than normal.
If someone believes they have received counterfeit money, Landry said, hang on to the money, call the police and delay the person who gave it out as much as possible.
More information on identifying counterfeit bills can be found at www.SecretService.gov/know_your_money.shtml.
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