The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to beware of a recent scam involving items being sold online.

“The victims are being contacted by a suspect posing as a potential buyer,” sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Ketchum said, saying the items are being sold on such Web sites as eBay and Craig’s List.

“After the two negotiate their transaction, the suspect will send the victim a check for the purchase amount plus, from what has been reported, anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 more,” Ketchum said. “The suspect then asks the victim to either deposit or cash the check and send the difference back to them.”

The scam centers on the fact that the checks - which are either computer-generated or manufactured by other means - are fictitious and have no value, Ketchum said.

“The suspects are hoping to catch an unsuspecting victim that will make a bank transaction and send money back to them before it is discovered that the checks are no good,” Ketchum said, saying people need to keep their guard up and question circumstances such as these.

“People should remember to be suspicious of any business transaction, contest or prize winnings, et cetera, that ask a person to return money to them,” Ketchum said.

So far, authorities aren’t aware of anyone who has been taken advantage of.

“Fortunately, in the instances that have been reported to us, the checks have been discovered as false in a timely manner by either the victims themselves or bank personnel and none of our victims have suffered any type of loss related to the checks,” he said, asking that anyone who receives such a check or offer to report the incident to either the sheriff’s office or their local law enforcement agency.

Unfortunately, it’s the time of year when criminal activity tends to increase, Ketchum said, saying people should increase their vigilance so as not to become victims.

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