Are you a victim of common 'sending money' scams?

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- On some online stores, there are offers that sound too good to be true, like rock-bottom prices on expensive or hard-to-find merchandise. Some auction sellers will only accept a money transfer as payment. Some lottery or prize offers require buyers to pay taxes or fees before they can collect.

If you have ever been involved with any of these opportunities, chances are you've either been a victim of or have narrowly escaped an Internet scam.

A common online scam used in the Eifel area is referred to as auction fraud, and it involves fraud attributable to the misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale through an Internet auction site or not receiving the products purchased through an Internet auction site. Consumers are strongly cautioned against entering into Internet transactions with subjects exhibiting the following behavior:

- The seller posts the auction as if he or she resides in the U.S., then responds to victims with a congratulatory email stating he or she is outside the U.S. for business reasons or a family emergency.
- Beware of sellers who post the auction under one name and ask for the fund to be transferred to another individual.
- The subject requests funds to be wired directly to him or her via Western Union, MoneyGram, or bank-to-bank wire transfer. By using these services, the money is virtually unrecoverable with no recourse for the victim.
- Buyers should avoid sellers acting as authorized dealers or factory representatives in countries where there would be no such dealers.
- Sellers who ask for the purchase to be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country should be avoided.
- Be suspicious of any credit card purchases where the address of the card holder does not match the shipping address. Always receive the card holder's authorization before shipping any products.

The FBI and various other agencies have teamed up to create the Internet Crime Complaint Center, available online at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx. The IC3 accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the victim or from a third party. They can best process your complaint if the information received was accurate and complete. Additionally, people can visit http://www.fakechecks.org/ecard.html for additional information on mystery shopping scams.

Remember, if it is too good to be true, it more than likely is. Don't fall victim to Internet scams. If you can't see it, don't buy it.