David Kaplan/Casey Palmer
4:20 PM EDT, June 24, 2011
You've seen it before and thrown it away; that mailer with the words "You are eligible to claim a reward of "$20,000" or "Call now about your unclaimed reward!"
It's scam mail and people are falling for it. William Prillaman received seven pieces of scam mail over the past two weeks. He said before he was a 'senior citizen' he never received any.
His concern is for recipients who are vulnerable and may think it's real. Older people are often targeted.
"I mean it's, it's so easy to fall for something like this," said William Prillaman.
Prillaman contacted the Better Business Bureau about a piece of mail that said he could get $100 in free gasoline. The catch; he would have to send in $5 in the form of a check or money order.
Most of the scam mail he receives has no return address, requires immediate response, and even looks like an official document.
But it's not just the elderly who get scammed. Herb Crimp thought he was selling his 2006 BMW online for a good price. But it turns out he got way more trouble than he bargained for.
"I became so infused and excited about selling this car and having this opportunity that we were pretty much getting taken into it," said Crimp.
Crimp posted his car for sale on Cars.com and got a response pretty quickly from a man claiming to be Scott Clark, at a Hotmail address who offered to pay more than the agreed upon price.
Clark also gave instructions on how to proceed, saying that he'd send this check for $28,000 which Crimp could use for the cost of the car and associated shipping costs. Then he asked Crimp to wire $4,000 to two different addresses in Madrid, Spain.
But consumer advocates say wiring money overseas is typically a bad idea, especially when the buyer is making a purchase without seeing the product.
"They don't want it, they are not buying it, they're just tyring to get you to wire money," said Julie Wheeler.
Experts say the biggest red flag is when people are asked to send a small amount of money for an even larger amount of money. And Crimp would agree.
Crimp took the check to a bank in West Virginia, and it told him it was not real.
"The $28,000 just by itself was mind-boggling and for me to have this happen, and come so close to just cashing it, and giving them the money and everything, I was glad I was able to stop myself," said Crimp.
Crimp then e-mailed "Scott Clark" telling him the check was bad and Clark's response was far from gracious. He tried to guilt-trip Crimp, saying that Crimp was hurting his business. Herb knew it was a scam for one particular reason: "Nothing like, if you cash that check, I'm going to have the police out after you, no concern about that at all," said Crimp.
Consumer advocates say scammers are smart; if you were to search for this "Scott Clark" you'd be directed to a dealership outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. NEWS7 called that dealership, and they report nobody uses the e-mail address Crimp had in his records.
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