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Beware The Online Story Of A Hard-Up Soldier, Selling Goods Cheap

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A cheap car ad on Craigslist may be too good to be true. (CBS)

A cheap car ad on Craigslist may be too good to be true. (CBS)

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MOUNT PROSPECT (CBS) — The sell line plays on your emotion: A soldier being deployed, he’s desperate for cash, and he will sell items at a bargain.

Except it’s a scam, on Craigslist, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

The FBI is now joining in the hunt for these con artists.

Young Mount Prospect real-estate agent Lucas Augustyn wants badly to buy a 2006 Honda Civic.

So, when he found one on Craigslist, offered at less than half the blue book value, he reached out online to the “seller,” a staff sergeant with the Fourth Battalion.

“The reason it’s so cheap is that he’s about to ship out to Afghanistan within the end of the month and he needs to get rid of his car quickly,” Augustyn explained.

But the seller wouldn’t let Augustyn see it to kick the tires. He promised delivery “by the military” after the $2,900 in cash was paid. Lucas got suspicious and backed off.

Then he found a similar deal offered by a “female military doctor” about to go off to war. The same demand: Send me the cash, I’ll send you the car.

Augustyn thinks the two offers were possibly from the same individual, or a “band or syndicate.”

According to St. Xavier University business professor William Kresse, an expert in fraud schemes, Augustyn is on to something. Kresse says the FBI is investigating a growing scam involving a search for cash by phony soldiers.

“That is really the disgusting part of this, because they’re trying to use that fact or that allegation to gain some sympathy,” he said.

The scam involves offers to sell cars, trucks, laptop computers and boats. Many of the con artists claim they’re members of the Illinois National Guard.

As you might expect, the thieves are very hard to catch but the FBI is trying.

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