LOPD runs into some craigslist woes


The Lake Oswego Police Department has worked on numerous theft and fraud cases.

LOPD Capt. Don Forman said those cases involve private garage sales, ads in newspapers, flea markets, pawnshops, word of mouth, bartering of stolen goods.

'All these have been and still are ways to get rid of stolen property. The Internet can and is used for some of these same purposes.'

He cited the following cases, which involved craigslist.

• A Lake Oswego family, moving to California, had an arranged mover cancel on them at the last minute. As a result, the family rented a moving truck but sought help, through craigslist, in loading the moving truck.

During the loading of the truck, the family mentioned that a second truckload needed to be moved at a later time. The craigslist suspect said that he would be going to California in the next week and offered his services. Several days later, the suspect showed up with his own moving truck received $300 cash for initial fuel expenses and loaded the truck with the family's belongings.

The suspect never went to California and was later found in Portland with most of the missing property and, of course, a rented moving truck that had not been properly returned.

• A local victim found a car for his daughter on craigslist, and ended up making a deal for the car for an agreed upon amount of $2,000 with the title to be delivered later.

The victim got the car, no title, and later learned there was a lien on it for $1,000 through a private 'title loan' company that was holding the title.

The victim arranged to buy the title back for the $1,000 from the company and also spent another $350 for a new catalytic converter.

The buyer was originally assured the DEQ slip 'was in the glovebox' and that the car had already passed emissions testing. But it had not. The victim found himself stuck in a bad situation with nothing to do but move forward in the title purchase process and car repairs.

• A local resident was looking for furniture on craigslist. He made a deal, giving $500 as a down payment for an agreed upon $1,500 price tag. Several days later, the victim was unable to reach and complete the deal with the suspect. It was the same suspect as the car salesman above.

• A local resident was operating as a 'finance center' on the Internet, buying and selling what is called 'egold.'

He was a middleman between buyers and sellers, accepting payment as ecredit or check, and holding the money until the seller and buyer completed the transaction - an online 'escrow' service. Police are still investigating this case.

'The consistency in all of this is that the the same old thing is at work,' said Forman. 'Folks trying to take something from someone else via lying, cheating, stealing, misrepresenting themselves or goods, etc. There is nothing new in any of this except the computer.'

'We get the phishing scams and phony e-mails here in the city and at LOPD, same as everyone else with a computer,' he added. 'A few years back, I was contacted here at work via e-mail by someone who claimed to be a police officer from another country looking for someone he could 'trust' in this area. He explained that he had found a Harley Davidson on eBay and needed someone to look at it for him. We traded a few e-mails back and forth as this one entertained me, with the 'officer' at one point e-mailing me a photo of a group of foreign officers explaining which one he was in the photo. We never got to the stage of 'I like it and here's the cashiers check and keep a little for yourself. Send me the bike.'

'I called him on it and the e-mails ceased. The trouble with all that sort of thing is: Send out a couple hundred, couple thousand, or a couple of million and, guess what, it works.'