Fox Valley man warns others to be cautious online after finding local posting to be a scam

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APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – A Fox Valley man says he noticed pretty quickly that something was off about a Facebook Marketplace ad that had been sent to him by a friend.

“It was a Range Rover,” David said. “It had a $1,400 price tag on it. It seemed low. My first response was something mechanically or something wrong with the body.”

He reached out to the seller, and learned that she had an elaborate backstory.

“She was a widow. She had just lost a husband,” David recalled. “I think most people could relate to that. People are so honest and sincere up here in Northeast Wisconsin.”

She was not only a widow, but a member of the military set to deploy.

Over email, she told David that the vehicle needed to sell, fast. He offered to travel to the military base the woman claimed to be living on and to bring cash to purchase the vehicle.

David read aloud the email that followed his offer, “They want the money in the eBay trust account, ‘you receive the car in just three days and have a 5 day trust period.”

The seller was offering to ship the vehicle to Wisconsin, free of charge saying it would arrive 3-5 days after his payment through eBay went through.

David decided to reach out to the military base.

“I asked the military police, ‘can you validate that this is indeed somebody from your base,'” He told Local 5. “The gentleman checked and came back and said, ‘No this is not somebody at our base, and quite frankly it is not somebody who has ever been at our base.'”

His next call was to police.

“She had asked if I had provided any money or I was scammed out of any money,” David said. “I said no, I wasn’t.”

Appleton Police say if you think you or somebody you know may be falling victim to an online scam, contact your local police department.

“We still want to file a police report,” Sergeant Meghan Cash of the Appleton Police Department said. “We still want to go through the process of investigating something, because oftentimes, even though it may be something that could potentially be national or something that’s not local here, there may be connections that could allow us to be able to provide information to another agency.”

Scams like the one David found can be widespread.

It turns out, he wasn’t the only person who had called that military base about purchasing a vehicle.

“The other gentleman had paid between $3,000 and $4,000 for another ficitious vehicle,” he said. “Unfortunately he was scammed out of a few thousand dollars.”

The Facebook Marketplace posting David responding to has since been taken down.

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