Student tracks down thief
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Thread: Student tracks down thief

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Student tracks down thief

    MARKHAM, Illinois (AP) -- Spinning a web of Internet informants, a student doggedly pursued a bogus-check writer who allegedly cheated him out of a computer through eBay, enabling police to make an arrest.

    Eric Smith, a University of New Orleans student, initially had few clues to find the person who bought his Apple laptop on the Internet auction site with the bogus check.

    He had an e-mail address, a cell phone number and the Chicago street address where he shipped the laptop, but the address turned out to be nothing more than a mail drop.

    By posting the scant details on Internet message boards and chat rooms, Smith got responses from more than a hundred fellow Macintosh users. They found the registration of the phone number and provided evidence that a Los Angeles resident had been similarly swindled.

    Smith said the FBI and the Secret Service declined the case because it didn't involve a significant loss; the Chicago Police Department took a report.

    Smith finally decided to set a trap by using his girlfriend's eBay account to set up another computer sale and stake out the buyer. The next e-mail said to send the computer to suburban Markham, where police were glad to help.

    "I don't know much about computers, but I have a passion for this kind of work," police Sgt. Jim Knapp said Friday. "And Eric had made it so easy. He'd really worked to put together this nice little package that couldn't be ignored."

    Melvin Christmas, 38, was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of forgery; it was unclear whether he was in custody.

    Telephone messages left with police and at a listing for a Melvin Christmas in Chicago were not immediately returned Saturday.

    Knapp said the suspect may have been part of a theft ring. About a dozen other people have contacted the department, saying they lost computers the same way, he said.
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  2. #2
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    You have to love it when the victim gets into it and tracks down the theif.

    This is something that Ebay should have to do, but never does.

    I don't know why sellers on Ebay don't verify funds on a check after they recieve it.

    It is perfectly legal for someone to contact the bank you are writing a check from to verify funds available.

    They can't tell you other info, but if you say you have a check for $600.00 drawn on American Trust, they have to tell you if the funds are available. Of course the bank account info is right on the check.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    In "my other life" I did credit and collections in Las Vegas.

    phishphreek80 makes a good point about calling the bank to verify funds, but the funds might not be there by the time the check is presented.

    Best bet IMHO is a cashiers check or postal money order.

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  4. #4
    Senior Member The Old Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Good points. I was shopping eBay for another camera lens and noticed that most dealers require some form of secure exchange before they ship products. I was looking at one dealer who takes a thing from City Bank called c2it. I've known of that product for quite awhile but never used it. What it does is send the money by Email, supposedly free to the sender in the U.S. Don't know if it's free to the receiver, but that was the only camera dealer who even mentioned it and he's been in business long enough to probably know it works. I was going to use c2it to purchase the lens, but then ran out of time, couldn't wait for delivery, so went downtown and bought the lens for $40 over what it was on Ebay. Might not have gotten exactly the same lens, but then again, maybe so.

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