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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Craigslist Buyer Scam Traced To Gasconade Missouri

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Internet phishing scam
September 15, 2011
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An investigation into fraudulent purchases has led Gasconade County deputies to recover approximately $10,000 worth of merchandise, believed to have been purchased over the internet using deceit and scams.

The Gasconade County Sheriff's office received a report in August from a victim in Kansas, reporting the theft.

The victim indicated expensive jewelry was purchased from her, using an internet phishing scam.

Not realizing that she had been scammed, the victim shipped the jewelry to a residence in Gasconade, Mo. The woman in Kansas, after realizing the sale was a fraud, reported the crime to her local law enforcement agency and requested the Gasconade County Sheriff's department attempt to recover her property.

Deputy Jacob Sprick and Captain Chuck Howard conducted the investigation and were able to locate property at 123 Ash Street in Gasconade, similar to that described by the victim. The deputies, with cooperation of the resident there, recovered jewelry valued at nearly $900.

After closer examination of the recovered jewelry, it was determined the property was not that of the victim from Kansas, but was another out-of-state victim.

The sheriff's office reported that it is undetermined at this point if the Gasconade resident was fully aware of the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the property.

Deputies continued the investigation, and over the course of the next two weeks were able to identify two additional victims, all of whom had sold jewelry via the internet classified website "Craigslist."

The sales were determined to be fraudulent and similar to the one described by the initial reporting party. In all three instances, the packages were shipped to the Ash Street address in Gasconade.

After learning the additional packages were accepted at this location, long after the previous visit by the deputies in late August, a search warrant was secured for the premises.

On Tuesday, Sept. 6, deputies executed the search warrant at 123 Ash Street and recovered numerous items suspected to have been purchased in a fraudulent manner, via the internet.

Items seized included appliances, clothing, jewelry, and cell phones. Computer equipment and cell phones belonging to the resident were also seized and will be analyzed for evidence associated with the scam.

Local investigators said many of the items were new and remained in the original shipping packages.

Now, Gasconade County investigators must locate the rightful owner of the items and determine which law enforcement agencies are responsible for the original investigation.

The sheriff's office reported Monday that one of the occupants at the Gasconade residence could face felony charges of receiving stolen property, pending the outcome of the examination of digital evidence.

Local law enforcement officials believe the residence was being used to ship numerous items that were slated to be sold or shipped to another location.

The FBI has been contacted about this investigation in hopes of closing out similar cases across the United States.

Local authorities said citizens should be aware of "phishing" scams. They said there is a fine line between internet scams (stealing by deceit) and just bad sales or business transactions via the web.

If you believe you have been a victim to an internet scam, contact your local law enforcement agency.

"The public should know that many bad business dealing or failed internet transactions can be resolved without law enforcement," said Sheriff Randy Esphorst. "Furthermore, law enforcement agencies cannot enforce civil contracts or financial matters that are civil in nature."

 If you an unsure about a certain situation, contact you're law enforcement agency for direction. 



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