Woman warns of Craigslist scam involving deals, odd forms of currency

Published: Mar. 31, 2016 at 10:46 AM CDT
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It sounded like the perfect deal for Fawn Kratzer. She spotted a 2006 camper on Craigslist for just $2,500.

"This was a steal," says Kratzer. "A really good price."

She quickly emailed the seller and things took a very strange turn.

The seller had quite the sob story, claiming to be a widow from Grain Valley, MO, with a camper full of painful memories. She said her husband died of a heart attack and she was forced to move to Salt Lake City, UT. Now she wants the camper gone and is willing to part with it for a fraction of what it's worth.

Kratzer said she felt sorry for the seller and wanted to do everything to make the sale as smooth as possible.

The woman selling the camper told Kratzer she wanted to go through Apple Pay because it was more secure. She asked Kratzer to pay with iTunes gift cards, to the tune of $2,500.

Then came another email, asking for another $1,500 in gift cards to pay for the 'refundable insurance.' Kratzer reluctantly complied but only sent $1,000 in gift card information.

It was soon after that Kratzer quickly realized she was never getting that camper.

"The only thing I can say is it's a living hell. It's pure insanity," said Kratzer.

She filed a report with the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Her chances of getting her $3,500 back are slim to none.

KCTV5 did a reverse image search of the photos in the Craigslist ad and was able to trace them back to a real camper in Florida, listed for $18,000.

Investigative reporter Angie Ricono reached out to the woman claiming to sell the camper. Whoever is on the other end of that email, then tried to sell our reporter the same item with the same sob story. She even gave us a VIN number, which we traced to that same camper in Florida.

When Ricono asked if she could speak by phone, the seller conveniently had a tracheotomy and couldn't talk. When we tell her we feel like this could be a scam, the seller drops off and no longer returns our messages.

"It's the same scam just a different twist on how they are doing it," points out Bridget Patton with the local FBI office.

The FBI tracks scams and says their agents see this one all the time, luring people with a sad story, a great deal and odd form of currency. This time it was iTunes gift cards.

Patton said the gift cards were likely resold online for a cheaper price, with the scammer pocketing the difference.

The FBI said there are ways to avoid scams like this one. First, if the deal is too good to be true it probably is. Second, verify the information. If you're buying a car or in this case a camper, ask for the VIN number. That will tell you if it has a clear title or if it's even a real vehicle.

The FBI also suggests watching out for words like 'refundable insurance fee" and avoid paying for items on Craigslist with gift cards.

Kratzer hopes Karma will catch up with them.

"I hope and pray they get what's coming to them," says Kratzer.