More than 200 persons have been victimized by classified ad fraud in the last year, said the Judicial Investigating Organization, and those are just the ones who filed a report.
This is the scam in which crooks pretend to be professionals and contact individuals who have advertised articles on various Web sites or in print newspapers, said agents.
The caller agrees to purchase the item, perhaps a bicycle or a computer, and then arranges a meeting to pay for it.
However, according to agents, when the victim arrives at the designated spot, the crook calls with an excuse, such as he is in surgery or at a trial or some other professional endeavor. Agents say that in fact many of the calls are from prisoners in custody who are working with accomplices.
The person with the item for sale is instructed to leave it with someone near the meeting place. The seller then is instructed to go someplace else nearby to pick up the money. This could be a nearby lawyer’s office or even a government building.
Of course there is no money, and when the victim returns, the article is gone.
Agents advise that classified sellers obtain full identification of those who call and keep track of serial numbers of the items they advertise. Agents also advise not going alone to a meeting to sell an item.