Monday, January 21, 2008

Port Angeles man accused of Craigslist scam


Police have arrested a Port Angeles man for stealing thousands from users of the Web site

Investigators said the man used bad checks to buy diamond rings on the site, scamming a number of victims from Seattle to Everett.

It all began with one engagement ring. A Snoqualmie man posted an ad on Craigslist, asking for $5,400 for the ring.

Police say the Port Angeles man saw the posting as an opportunity to cash in.

"He portrayed himself as a jewelry broker from Elegance Jewelry Design and so the victim met with him (and) they looked at the ring through a jewelry glass," said Rebecca Munson with the Snoqualmie Police Department.

The two struck a deal at $5,200 and the suspect wrote the seller a business check. But that check turned out to be fake.

"He made it look like he knew what he was talking about," Munson said.

The victim e-mailed every Craigslist user with a posting for a ring for sale and warned them about the scam. He learned the suspect targeted two others.

"Then they had a contact from someone in Seattle who had set up a meeting with our suspect," said Munson.

That's when police jumped in. They set up a sting operation at a Starbucks coffee shop in Queen Anne, where the seller was to meet the suspect. When the man showed up, undercover officers arrested him.

The man was booked at the King County Jail for investigation of first degree theft, financial fraud, forgery and unlawful issuance of a bank check.

News of the latest Craigslist scam has users on high alert.

"I've used it for everything, it's just reliable," said Michael Mathias.

Mathias said he's using Craigslist to sell his grandmother's ring. He doesn't have a buyer yet, but knows what to do when that person comes calling.

"You take the money first, you always ask for cash," he said.

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