Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Four more scams to avoid


Special to The Miami Herald

Several readers emailed me this past week about different scams that you encountered but didn’t fall for. I am going to once again share some of these scams so you can avoid them. Feel free to call our office if you need further information.


The victim is contacted via email by a person expressing interest in an item that the victim has posted for-sale on Craigslist or another online sales or auction site. The “buyer” claims to live outside the area or to be traveling abroad. The “buyer” agrees to have a friend mail the victim a check for the purchase of the item and arrange for shipment of the item. The victim typically receives a check with a face value far exceeding the purchase price, and is asked to return the “accidental” overage via wire transfer. The check is later discovered to be stolen/forged/counterfeit and the “buyer” never, in fact, arranges for shipment of the item.


The victim is contacted via telephone by a person claiming to be a real estate broker. The broker claims to represent an out-of-state or international buyer who is interested in purchasing the victim’s time-share. Typically, the broker offers a purchase price that far exceeds the fair market value of the time-share. Upon agreeing to the price, the victim is directed to remit a fee (property taxes, transfer fees, filing fees, etc.) via wire transfer in advance of the sale. Once the victim remits the payment, the suspect ceases all communication and the sale is never consummated.


The victim is contacted via telephone by a person claiming to be an employee of the victim’s bank or credit card issuer. The victim is often told that fraud has been detected on the account and the bank needs to verify the victim’s true personal information. In a variation of this scam, the victim is contacted by a subject claiming to be employed by his bank or credit card issuer, with an offer of a better interest rate or mortgage refinancing. In either case, the victim is directed to “confirm” his/her account number, name, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, and other personal information typically used by financial institutions


The victim is contacted via telephone by someone purporting to be a police investigator or bank official. The victim is asked to help with an internal bank investigation intended to expose a crooked teller, who is dispensing fake currency or otherwise defrauding customers. The victim is asked to go to his/her local bank branch and make a large cash withdrawal at a specific time. After making the withdrawal and exiting the bank, the victim is met outside by the “investigator”, who thanks the victim, takes the withdrawn currency, and promises to credit the victim’s account. The “investigator” is later discovered not to be a police officer or bank employee.

Folks, scams only work if we allow them to work. So start saying “no” and start being aware of these crooks in our community.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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