News

Fishy check reels in suspicions

Former private investigator

not fooled by fake check.

POULSBO — All Poulsbo resident Bruce Ball wanted was to sell his Sage fly-fishing rod for $400 on Craigslist.com.

What he caught instead was a sleuthing opportunity — a suspicious $2,000 check for “instant cash” from a company out of San Mateo, Calif.

A check worth five times more than the asking price was more than a little fishy to Ball.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Ball said.

Whomever is behind the check doesn’t know Ball is a former detective.

Years ago Ball, 65, worked as an investigator for a detective firm in Fresno, Calif.

After Ball posted his listing on the Web site, he received an e-mail telling him to consider the rod sold and reply with his name and address so a cashier’s check could be sent.

Ball didn’t hear any alarm bells sounding just yet. He replied with the asked information.

A second e-mail then arrived in his inbox telling him a check was on its way. He was to deposit it, withhold $400 for the rod and an additional $500 for shipping. He was to send his fly-fishing rod and the rest of the money to the check’s “shipper.”

Suspecting fraud, Ball deleted the e-mail immediately.

A check arrived to his home Aug. 19 via UPS Next Day Air, the day after Ball said he received the suspicious e-mail.

“When the check showed up at my front door I thought this can’t be right,” Ball said. “I kind of hoped it was right but I didn’t have any real hope. I essentially knew it was fraud. I’m just thankful I recognized it for what it was.”

The company name “Dovebid” was printed on the check.

Internet search results show Dovebid is a business-to-business auctioneer company with branches located throughout the world. The address on the check matched a branch located in San Mateo, Calif.

However, after Ball placed a call to Comerica Bank — the bank name on the check — it was confirmed Dovebid is not the name-holder of the bank account.

“I didn’t trust anything on that check at all,” Ball said, adding that the phone number listed on the check for Comerica Bank didn’t match the one listed on their Web site. Rather, the phone number listed on the check was disconnected.

“If I’d attempted to negotiate the check it would have bounced sky high and if I’d turned around and wrote the check for the remaining money I would have been out a whole two grand,” he said.

According to the fraud department at Comerica Bank, this was not the first time counterfeit checks were drawn against that particular account number, Ball said.

Further information about that particular account could not be obtained.

To incite an investigation, the Comerica fraud department said Ball would have to file a claim with his bank; however, the only way he could do that is if he actually was victimized. It would essentially be a $2,000 investigation on his behalf.

“In order for my bank to intervene, I’d have had to deposit the check,” Ball said.

The “shipper,” listed on the return label of the UPS envelope was “The Timken Company” located in Seneca, Missouri.

There is no Timken Company listed in Seneca. The address for the company is also undeliverable.

A reverse look-up of the phone number given for the company belongs to another company altogether, a medical clinic known as Otolaryngology Of Joplin.

Owners of Otolaryngology of Joplin did not return phone calls by press time.

Ball said he hopes others are wary of this type of scam.

Until this happened to him he wasn’t aware of fraud occurring through Craigslist.com but knew it was a possibility.

“Scams that rely on people’s greed and ignorance usually work really well,” he said. “It obviously took a lot to set up, but all the info on the check and envelope is bogus. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out because it was so weird. People need to be suspicious of offers like this. It just didn’t make any sense.”

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