By Justin Lofton
ADA — Alyssa Christian said she was looking for a new truck on yahoo.com when she spotted a deal that was almost too good to be true.
As it turned out, it was.
“I was just looking for a cheap car to buy with my tax return,” Christian, 19, said. “A 2006 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson edition truck came up and it was $2,800.”
The seller was located in the Oregon-California area. Christian emailed the seller, who claimed his name was Adam Caroser, and he said the reason the truck was cheap was because he was a veteran about to be deployed to Afghanistan.
She said Caroser instructed her to make payments through Google Checkout to Western Union.
“After I made the final payment he quit emailing me,” she said. In all, Christian said she lost over $3,100 to the scam.
“It was actually all of my tax money,” she said. “I wasn’t very happy when the truck didn’t show up.”
She said emails she’d received from Google Checkout were fake. The ad for the truck was taken down from Yahoo’s “Autos” section.
As of Feb. 10, Christian said the same truck was back up for sale, this time in Dallas, Texas.
Christian sought legal advice from Kurt Sweeney, a local attorney. Sweeney advised Christian to file a police report.
Sweeney said internet scams are a common occurrence.
“Unfortunately, I’ve never seen anyone collect,” he said. “Once the money’s gone, it’s too hard to track it down.”
He said he’s looked at the names and addresses “Caroser” gave to Christian during their email correspondence but said they won’t be of much use unless one of them is legitimate.
Major Jeff Crosby of the Ada Police Department said 90 percent of internet scams remain unsolved.
“A lot of it’s overseas,” he said. “They may be sitting in Africa at a computer, posting these ads and having the person wire them money.”
He said consumers shouldn’t send money to people they don’t know and should go see what they’re buying in person.
“If you’re going to buy (a vehicle) over the internet, do it within 400 miles so you can drive to see it,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said buyers should also try to avoid utilizing money wiring services such as Western Union for internet purchases.
“Some services have a little bit better protection but it’s still a risky deal,” he said.
He said the best option for internet purchases is a credit card because illegitimate charges may be challenged.