Call 11 for Action: Look for broken links in elaborate scams

(Toledo News Now) -  Some scams are so elaborate, it's easy to let your guard down because everything looks legitimate.

Harry Riddle put an ad on Craigslist and got an e-mail from someone interested in buying his boat.

Riddle said the customer told him, "We need to go through PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account you need to open a PayPal account."

That's when the scam started.

"I started getting correspondents from him, on PayPal paper. So, I figured it was pretty well legitimate," said Riddle.

Riddle received a confirmation e-mail with the PayPal logo showing his account had $5,500, the cost of the boat. Then the buyer asked him to pay a $950 shipping fee.

According to Riddle, the buyer said "Please send it. As soon as you send it we'll release that money under your account."

Riddle wired the money and got new confirmation the money was transferred into his PayPal account.

"A few hours later I get another e-mail stating, 'OK. We need another $1,000 for insurance fees. Please send that.' And that went on the same way," said Riddle.

Confirmation again came with a PayPal logo that showed Riddle's account balance increased.

"There are some real red flags for these e-mails," said Cary Johnson, a fraud investigator with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. "The return address is not There are added things from the first e-mail to later e-mails. There is a new sender with a G-mail account, not anything associated with PayPal."

Johnson says the scheme is very elaborate, especially asking Riddle to set up a PayPal account.

The confirmation e-mail, which proved to be fake, showed Riddle's balance as $8,750. The real PayPal e-mail shows his balance is $0.

In the end, Riddle wired away and lost $3,100 of his own money.

Although this scam was very elaborate, remember: If you are the seller you should never have to pay.

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