Just becoming an adult, 20-year-old Lyndesy Parks decided to buy her first car.
She went online and found a listing on Craigslist for a Nissan Altima for $1,800.
"She sent me inside pictures, motor pictures, outside, the back of it," Parks said. "I didn't think it was too good to be true until after the fact."
After deciding to buy the car, the seller told Parks to set up an Ebay account so that they would both be protected.
"She said we would go through an Ebay attorney," Parks added.
But when Parks asked about setting up a PayPal account, the seller recommended they use MoneyGram instead.
Parks sent the money to an Ebay "attorney" in Alabama. He was supposed to hold on to money until she got the car, but once the seller confirmed the transaction, Parks never heard from the seller again.
"I just kept sending her messages and no reply after the money was sent," she said.
Unlike PayPal, MoneyGram is like sending cash.
"This is a very popular scam, we are seeing it in pretty much every state," said Michelle Buckalew with MoneyGram Global Communications.
In a Skype interview, Buckalew explained that their services are meant for families with financial emergencies, who need to send money fast, not for buying items online.
"Once the transaction has gone through, it's like cash. There's no getting it back," Buckalew said.
But Parks wasn't just a victim of one scam.
The invoice from Ebay Motors was also a fake, albeit a convincing one.
In a statement from Ebay, they said any communication goes through the user's Ebay inbox, never through personal email.
"Never, ever send money to someone you don't know," Buckalew said.
A costly life lesson for Parks and the many others who had to learn the hard way.
"I didn't think she would be someone to scam someone, but apparently I was wrong," Parks said.
MoneyGram said there are several red flags to watch out for when buying anything online:
- If the seller is asking you to send multiple payments or payments to different locations;
- If the seller is playing on your emotions;
- And if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
If you are a victim of a scam, report it to your local law enforcement first, then contact the business.