U.S. Secret Service investigating scam on Craigslist in Kentucky, southern Indiana

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Selling something on Craigslist? The U.S. Secret Service is warning people in Kentuckiana to be careful.

The Secret Service says the suspects are paying for items with counterfeit money. They also say the suspects may be dangerous and carrying guns.

"I've used Craigslist a number of times, everything was always on the up and up and this is the first encounter where I got scammed," said a local man, who wishes to remain anonymous.

He says he is concerned for his safety after learning the suspects may be dangerous. Fortunately, he says, his encounter went smoothly, until he realize he had been ripped off.

He was burned trying to sell his PlayStation 4 on Craigslist.

"I bought it for about $320, asked $425 for it," he explained. He met an interested buyer at a local McDonald's parking lot. "He came over to me, counted out the money, took the PlayStation 4 and then ran," he remembered.  

Minutes later, he realized the bills were worthless.

"When you're doing the exchange, you're not holding the money up to a light, you're not inspecting it, if it looks really good, as it did, you're going to be fooled. It felt just a little bit off, and then obviously I got to looking at it, it looks real, but then you start looking for a water mark or a money strip and it isn't there," the man said.

The Secret Service is investigating and says the suspects have been aggressive in some cases. At least one victim was threatened with a gun.

"If somebody shows you a gun, obviously the best thing for you to do is back off and do just as that victim did and report it to the police department," said Craig Hutzell, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service.

The Secret Service started seeing an uptick of this scheme around Christmas and have been going after leads since then.

They believe the scammers are working in a group in Kentuckiana. They go after electronics, like gaming systems and cell phones. Hutzell warns people selling these items to be cautious.

"Do it (the exchange) in a public place, do it perhaps where there are cameras around, don't do it by yourself, take a friend or someone with you," Hutzell suggested.

This victim knows he is out the money and a PlayStation. But he has hope in one thing -- the investigators.

"They're out there trying to catch these guys before they take advantage of anyone else." 

The Secret Service is aware of at least five victims, but they think there are many more.

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