Edmonson Voice Staff
In January of this year, a fraud complaint was filed with the Sheriff's department regarding stolen money via an eBay purchase. A local business owner, Jackie Snelling, was attempting to purchase an embroidery machine on eBay. The seller somehow was able to defeat the eBay security measures and embedded an unauthorized link directing Mrs. Snelling to a separate website with instructions as to how to make the payment. After several fraudulent emails, the seller cut off communication with Mrs. Snelling and never shipped the embroidery machine.
Lt. Shane Doyle with the Sheriff's Department worked the case, and requested assistance from the Dept. of Homeland Security. Doyle spoke with Agent Theodore Curtis, who assisted in the investigation. Together with DHS, Lt. Doyle was able to obtain search warrants for the seller's eBay and Google log in information, and they were able to track the seller to a location in South Carolina.
Mrs. Snelling was contacted by agents in the South Carolina field office in October advising her that arrests had been made, and that she had been identified as a victim. The investigation spanned over six states and several countries, resulting in multiple arrests on federal fraud charges.
"We have worked very hard to establish good working relationships with all of our surrounding law enforcement agencies, whether local, state, or federal," Doyle said. "Thankfully, the Dept. of Homeland Security has been very helpful, and they've done an excellent job on this case."
Jackie Snelling told the Edmonson Voice to warn others of these types of scams. "When I first realized I had been scammed, I was so embarrassed. How could I be so stupid?" she said. "The more I thought about it, the more I realized how convincing the scam was. The Ebay listing, the e-mails from what looked like Ebay, logos and disclaimers, the confirmation of the transaction... all so convincing," she said.
She also said that she contacted Ebay, but was told that the transaction had never taken place and the item had been removed. She then contacted Green Dot, (a payment service) but was told there was nothing they could do except recommend that a report be filed with local police. That didn't sound very promising because she didn't think the sheriff's department could be much help in this situation.
"I went in and filed a report with Shane Doyle and to my surprise, he had special training in cyber crimes! I couldn't believe it. He took my report and ran with it," Snelling said. "Apparently through his investigation, he found that the money had left the country so he then contacted the local Homeland Security office."
Mrs. Snelling also said that when she received the phone call from Homeland Security in South Carolina letting her know arrests had been made, she was beyond thrilled. Apparently several others had reported this scam on Ebay, but few were willing to help in the investigation. Homeland Security then requested more information from Snelling and luckily, she had kept good records of her ordeal. She was able to work with local officer Curtis and he helped expedite the process. "I am so proud of our local law enforcement and what they have accomplished," she added. "I learned a very expensive lesson. As they say, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is...” I may not get my money back but I know I did my part to keep these crooks from scamming someone else. The shame is not in being the victim, the shame is in letting it continue," she said.
The sheriff's department also added that any victim of fraud is urged to contact the National White Collar Crime Center, as well as local law enforcement.