By Shawn Chitnis
MORRISON, Colo. (CBS4)– A couple building their dream home tried to sell a family heirloom online to help pay for the cost of their house but found out Thursday the buyer was a fraud after they had already shipped the ring.
“We knew that Dan’s mom, my mother-in-law, would want us to have a home on our own,” said Alexandra Schlereth. “We ended up making the decision knowing this is what she would want for us.”
The Schlereths received a ring after the passing of a parent last year. They wanted the money from the gift to help cover the down payment for the house they’re building on a piece of property they purchased in Morrison. Construction for the home is set to begin in the spring.
“I felt it in my gut that something was wrong, but I just didn’t know,” said Schlereth.
They asked family members where to sell the ring and heard good reviews about eBay so they listed it after appraising the ring. She created an auction for the item but eBay also lets you set a “Buy It Now” price as well. Someone offered to pay that amount within 36 hours of the listing. The buyer said they were using PayPal but there were technical issues that would delay the payment. Schlereth shipped the ring on Tuesday without receiving any money. She never heard from the buyer after she confirmed the shipment but received a troubling email from eBay on Thursday.
“The eBay account that purchased it was an unauthorized user for an inactive account,” Schlereth learned from the email.
The online auction site informed her to contact the U.S. Postal Service to try to intercept the package. The buyer claimed to live in California but requested the item be shipped to a relative as a gift in London. Federal Express is responsible for the shipping overseas and she has asked them to stop the delivery.
“Well I’ve learned now that you’re supposed to actually completely receive the money before you ship,” she told CBS4 on Thursday. “Don’t ship it until it is actually in your account.”
She realizes now there were some red flags in the transaction. The account for the buyer was from a “koreamail.com” address and the emails were poorly written.
“I’m really sad because this was my mother-in-law’s ring and I really wanted it to be used for something important for our future,” she said. “So I’m feeling sad that it’s gone.”
The couple still plans to move forward with their house but admits it will be a challenge to find the money needed for the project.
“It just feels really bad to be taken advantage of and tricked,” said Schlereth. “I have another ring that she left me and I really don’t want to have to sell that.”
She wants to warn others selling valuable items online to make sure they keep all correspondence on the original platform. In this case, the buyer moved off eBay to direct email. She also realized the email addresses coming from PayPal were not authentic, a lesson to check those accounts before sending any money.
“I want to still trust people and I want other people to still trust people but be careful,” said Schlereth.