Use care with online sales transactions

Aug. 21, 2010 at 3:21 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

I had a call a couple of days ago from a lady that was almost a victim of a counterfeit check scam. She had listed her above ground swimming pool for sale on Craigslist. She was asking for $2,000. She received an e-mail from a person wanting to buy the pool. As the conversation by e-mails continued back and forth the particulars of the scam came to light. The schemer sent the intended victim a money order for $4,800, not $2,000. He wanted the victim to cash the check and send the difference of $2,800, to a delivery service company which in turn would pick up the pool. When the victim asked why the delivery fee was so high, the schemer responded that the delivery company was picking up other items in the area. By now the victim smelled a rat and called us. The lesson here: buyers and sellers need to be very careful about transactions that result from postings on Craigslist and other similar sites.

Red flags include the schemer wanting the money transfer to be done by wire, cashier's checks or money orders.


A new horror for us to worry about. Are you familiar with geotag? Geotag is a bit of data attached to a picture you take with a camera that incorporates GPS. It provides the longitude and latitude of where your photo was taken. Because the location data is not visible to the casual viewer, the concern is that many people may not realize it is there; and they could be compromising their privacy, if not their safety, when they post geotagged media online.

Imagine your 15-year-old daughter posting on line her cheerleader picture she shot in her room. If that photo is geotagged, any person that views the picture can obtain her exact location. Best advice is to disengage the geotag function on your camera and reactivate it when it is safe to do so such as when you take the camera on vacation.


The Texas Attorney General recently announced a resolution to the state's enforcement action against Austin-based Affordable Healthcare Options and its other entities AHCO Direct, LLC, AHCO Contract Servicing Ltd. and Maternity Card.

According to AG filings, the company and their additional business names sold fraudulent discount health card plans to expectant women who lacked maternity insurance. Consumers who filed, or plan to file, a complaint with the Attorney General's office may be eligible to receive refunds.

According to state investigators, consumers nationwide, including our area, paid upfront fees to Affordable Health Care Options for products such as a "MaternityCard." Expectant mothers were told these cards would reduce the cost of doctors' visits, sonograms, prescriptions, delivery and other prenatal care and was accepted by a large number of health care providers.

However, consumers complained to BBB and the Attorney General that the doctors on Affordable Health Care Options' provider list did not accept the "MaternityCard." Consumers also alleged they never received the discounts and savings promised by the company, despite paying monthly fees for their products.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at



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