Most people have heard of Caveat Emptor: "Let the buyer beware." There is also Caveat Venditor; "Let the seller beware." Both are good advice: buyers and sellers need to be aware with whom they are conducting money transactions, whether the cash is real or fake, and whether the transaction is real or fake.
The Sheriff’s Office has had several recent reports of counterfeit currency being used in personal sales transactions and a recent incident at a local retail store. In all, we have had 18 reports of the use of counterfeit bills in Polk County since the start of 2016.
On March 11 a private sale occurred in the parking lot of a RaceTrac gas station in Polk County for an Apple Watch which was posted on the OfferUp website. The victim communicated with a man she said was named Dylan. Dylan is described as a white male, 5'-10", 280 pounds with medium length blond hair. The transaction was completed when the victim received $260.00 for the watch, gave the watch to "Dylan" and both parties left. Later the victim was made aware the currency was counterfeit and included (2) $100.00 bills and (3) $20.00 bills. "Dylan" left in a new Silver Nissan Altima.
On March 13 a similar sale for an Xbox One offered on Craigslist occured at a different RaceTrac gas station here in Polk County. A man met by the victim identified himself as Jason Miller. "Jason" was a Black Male, 6'-01" and about 26 years of age with braided hair. The transaction was completed when the victim received $300.00 for the Xbox One and both parties left. The victim identified the currency as counterfeit when he attempted to get fuel. The denominations included (2) $100.00 bills and (2) $50.00 bills. The $100.00 bills had the same serial number in both incidents.
On March 15 another sale for a pair of 12" Kicker speakers was completed using Offerup's website. This time the buyer identified himself as Malcolm Porter. He went to the victim's residence and paid for the speakers with (6) counterfeit $20.00 bills. Malcolm is described at 5'-11" to 6'-01" tall, 260 to 300 pounds, late 20's with dreadlocks. Malcolm arrived in a late 90s white Ford F-150.
We are encouraging all private sellers to take the time to look at currency being exchanged for goods or services. Note the paper texture, where the portrait image is located on the bill, and if the ink color on the front is different from the back. For example images and more information on counterfeit bill detection, please visit the Secret Service’s website: http://www.secretservice.gov/data/KnowYourMoneyApril08.pdf.
Here are a few other important tips for private sale safety:
* Always take someone with you if you're meeting a stranger for a transaction
* Arrange to meet in highly populated and well-lit areas
* Request or provide a bill of sale
* Request photo identification for the bill of sale
* Never provide financial information
* If the other person makes you feel uncomfortable, decline the sale and walk away
* Alert law enforcement to any suspicious activity