Craigslist seller falls victim to counterfeit money scam


The victim thought he did everything night -- met up with the buyer in a parking lot and took a friend along. But his latest transaction taught him a hard lesson about how to spot fake cash.

Nineteen-year-old Dylan Balderston loves shoes.

"I've got like 30 pairs of shoes," he said.

We're talking about high-dollar athletic shoes. It's what's led him to buying and selling them for profit using Craigslist.

"Sometimes it's only $50, sometimes it's $100," Balderston said.

Last Saturday, he took a total loss.

"I was ******, really, really mad," Balderston said.

Just a few hours after Balderston had waited in line to buy these shoes at $170 a pop, he had a buyer.

"He said OK, I want the 10, 10.5 and then the 9," Balderston said.

They met at a busy store parking lot in Pearland.

"I opened the trunk and showed him the shoes," Balderston said.

Balderston took the cash -- $750 for three pairs. Not long after the buyer had left with the shoes, Balderston realized he had been scammed.

"Sure enough, they were all fake," he said.

Every $20, $50 and $100 bill was counterfeit. At first glance, they looked real, but then Balderston noticed little things.

"The paper had a texture to it; it had little grooves in it," Balderston said.

Store staff confirmed his suspicions. Balderston has since done his homework on what to look for. He won't stop selling shoes but will now make changes to how he does it.

"I'm still going to. Just now, I'm going to meet them at the bank or police station and have a counterfeit pen," Balderston said.

The suspect description was vague, only that he drove away in a silver Mustang, along with the three pairs of shoes.

Pearland PD says everyone should use the following tips when dealing with strangers:

  • When conducting transactions via Craigslist, meet at a public place and have a second person with you. This extra set of eyes will come in handy to write down license plate numbers or call police if something goes wrong.
  • When dealing with large sums of cash, don't be afraid to tell the buyer that you'll want to check the bills with a counterfeit detection pen. They can be found at most office supply stores.
  • It's OK to show a buyer that you have an item, but don't surrender it until you have checked out the cash.
  • Look for the denomination specific security features. Each bill has a specific watermark and security thread. Also, real bills have a distinct feel.
  • Be wary of a buyer that unexpectedly tries to change the location of a meeting or tries to alter terms of the arrangement.
  • Finally, and most importantly, if anything about a Craigslist transaction doesn't seem right, always be prepared to just walk away.

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