Once in a while, we get to hear about happy endings to potential scam-a-licious disasters. Since we like to publish good news just as much as we like to bust the scams, here is a good news nugget to add to your holiday cheer.

There’s this scum-sucking bottom feeder, see? This scammer places an ad on Craigslist saying that he is a soldier about to deploy to Afghanistan and that he HAS to sell his 2009 Tahoe before he leaves. As much as he hates to do it, he is highly motivated to get rid of it FAST, so he’ll let it go for a killer of a deal—a mere $20,000. That’s a good $15,000 less than it’s worth.

This guy lives in…wait for it…Utah, which is apparently the online scam capital of the world (after Nigeria).

So three people see the ad (two from Texas, one from California), do some homework to check out the deal and make sure it’s real, and they each wire $20,000 to a bank account in Sandy, Utah.

Of course, the cheap truck is never delivered and they learn that they have just fallen victim to an old scam: prepaying for something that doesn’t exist.

The good news is that they acted fast. One of the victims called the local police, who, working with the district attorney, were able to freeze the account and return the money. The perp has not been found, though he has been formally charged and has a warrant for his arrest. Read the whole story here.

Though this one has a happy ending, it could have been much worse. $20k is a lot to lose. These people must have ignored the huge print warning on the Cars for Sale page at Craigslist that says, “OFFERS TO SHIP VEHICLES ARE 100% FRAUDULENT.” They also ignored rules #1 and #2, which are to deal with people you can meet locally, and never to wire money.

The police chip in with this obligatory warning:

Although this story has a happy ending for these victims of fraud, this is not always the case,” said Sgt. Troy Arnold. “Police remind people to always use caution when conducting business transactions over the Internet. Do as much as possible to verify the seller’s information and to make sure the item they are purchasing is not too good to be true.

A brand new truck for half the list price? Yeah, I’d say that falls in the too good to be true category. Still, I’m glad it turned out well for these three potential victims.

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