UPDATED: Good Samaritan Pays Woman Who Was Scammed by Funny Money (VIDEO)

UPDATED: Montgomery County police say a good Samaritan heard about the woman who was scammed out of an iPhone and $500 and offered to repay her. The details are on the Montgomery County police Facebook page.

Capt. Mark Plazinski describes “safe exchange zones,” which were set up to prevent robberies when buyers and sellers meet for online sales.

A woman thought she was getting $450 for her iPhone 6. What she got was some worthless paper, and she had to pay $50 for the privilege.

Montgomery County police say the woman, 18, traded the phone for an envelope containing what she thought was five $100 bills. In the envelope was “prop money” — printed to look like cash but usually marked “For Motion Picture Use Only,” police said.

The woman had placed an ad May 15 to sell the phone on an app called “Letgo,” a mobile classifieds service that allows buyers to interact with sellers. The buyer, who identified himself as “Xavier” on Letgo, agreed to buy the phone for $450, police said.

Motion picture money | MCPD

He told the woman he only had five $100 bills, asking her to give him $50 in return. The woman agreed to meet the man in the parking lot of the Milestone Shopping center at 20900 Frederick Road in Germantown, police said.

During the transaction, “Xavier” gave the victim a bank envelope that appeared to contain the five $100 bills, police said. The victim then gave him the phone and $50 in cash.

Later, the woman tried to deposit the money, police said. The bank rejected the deposit, and then she looked at the bills and saw “For Motion Picture Use Only” written across the top of the five $100 bills. The victim then reported the incident to the police department, police said.

The suspect in this case is described tall and thin, and about 15 or 16 years old.

Anyone who has information about the person is asked to call the Germantown Investigative Section at 240.773.6237. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case.

The Montgomery County Police Department has designated Exchange Zones for residents to complete online transactions.  These Exchange Zones are located at each of the six police district station’s lobbies and parking lots (with the exception of the Second District parking lot):  For more information about these Exchange Zones, follow this link.

When selling or purchasing items from an unknown person, the police offers these safety tips:

  • Always meet the buyer or seller at an exchange zone that is well populated, well lit, and preferably at a designated police exchange zone.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going to meet someone and when possible, take a friend with you.
  • Inform the buyer/seller that you will not be alone.
  • Do not invite strangers into your home.
  • Never give out any personal or financial information.
  • When dealing with large sums of cash, don’t be afraid to tell the buyer that you will want to check the bills for authenticity.
  • It is OK to show a buyer that you have an item, but do not surrender it until you have checked the validity of the currency.
  • Look for the denomination specific security features. Each bill has a specific watermark and security thread.
  • Trust your instincts – if it sounds like a scam or too good to be true, it probably is.
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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug


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