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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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Texas A&M starting pitcher/relief pitcher Emiley Kennedy (11) hands the ball to starting pitcher/relief pitcher Brooke Vestal (19) during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Aggies’ comeback falls short in 9-8 loss to Longhorns
Luke White, Sports Editor • May 25, 2024

As the fifth inning drew to a close in Texas A&M softball’s Super Regional matchup with No. 1 Texas on Saturday, the Aggies found themselves...

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Who knows who you are?

After rescuing a malnourished dog from the street and taking him in for six months, the time requirement and financial resources needed to take care of the beagle- Dalmatian mix became too much for Peter Bybel.
So the senior human resources major set out to sell his dog, first on Craigslist. Little did he know, a scammer would interrupt his plan.
“I started looking for a home for him. I had no luck with [Craigslist]. I stumbled upon a site called petfinder.com, similar to Craigslist but it’s a more secure site. I posted an ad there,” Bybel said.
Petfinder.com requires site registration and information about the pet, so Bybel felt confident in the validity of the site. Within two days of posting his ad, he got a response from a woman claiming to be in California.
“The email she sent me was broken English but religiously inspired. She started it with, ‘May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you,’ and talked about how she loved dogs,” Bybel said. “The way she portrayed the email made it seem like she was a genuinely nice Christian lady.”
The woman said she would pay Bybel $200 to purchase his dog, Gibbard. The two corresponded a few times by email, and Bybel said he noticed some oddities about the situation but was not exceptionally concerned.
“I didn’t feel like I was going to get scammed because I didn’t know how it would happen,” he said.
College students are the latest group falling prey to counterfeit check scammers. The College Station Police Department has reported several check cons recently, costing young people thousands of dollars.
According to Rhonda Seaton, public information officer and recruiting coordinator with the police department, victims are contacted via Craigslist, eBay, work-at-home classified ads and Yahoo messenger accounts.
“Many times students are victims because they are trusting. Don’t be in situations involving money,” Seaton said.
Since college-age students are often looking for extra cash, advertisements might look attractive on the Internet. Seaton said to beware.
“Just remember, if it sounds too easy or too good to be true, it probably is,” she said.
The woman told Bybel she owned a large mass of land, bought pets online frequently and used a pet shipping company. She said she would send Bybel a check for the cost of the shipping and put him in contact with a man representing the company.
“That’s when I started to suspect something. I tried calling him, and it was disconnected. When I emailed her again, the names of the shipping companies weren’t lining up. We tried ‘googling’ the name of the company, and we couldn’t find any information whatsoever,” Bybel said.
Bybel did not take action because he felt he had not made a financial investment and that if the check was bad, it would bounce. The woman’s scam started to reveal itself to Bybel soon after.
“I received the check; it was from some guy in Connecticut. She had forged his signature. There was something wrong. And the check was for over $2,000.”
Bybel said the day he got the check in the mail, he received an email from the woman stating, “I sent you the check, I need you to wire me the $2,000.”
“She wanted me to wire it before I had the chance to deposit the check,” Bybel said.
The National Consumers League Internet Fraud Watch provided Seaton with some guidelines for recognizing fraud. People receiving goods and services on the net often offer to pay by check but ask to wire some of the money back — a scam which could result in a considerable loss.
“There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or a bank that has a branch in your area,” Seaton said.
Fake check scammers spend time hunting for ideal victims by scanning newspaper and online advertisements for people listing items for sale. They go to great lengths, like posting their own ads with contact information and emailing people randomly.
Seaton said strangers often claim to be in another country, saying it is too complicated to send the money directly. Scammers say they will arrange for a friend in the U.S. to mail the check.
College students should be advised when making online purchases dealing with checks. The National Consumer’s League Internet Fraud Watch reminds consumers that federal law requires banks to make the funds available quickly for whatever amount their customers deposit. Banks usually do this within one to five days, but just because the customer can withdraw the money does not mean the check is good. Sometimes weeks pass before forgery is discovered.
Bybel was able to catch it early, however.
“I called my bank and explained the situation. They advised me not to deposit the check and to cease all contact with her. I sent her an email telling her I suspected fraud,” he said.
Repercussions of check fraud include the bank’s ability to draw money from a customer’s other accounts without them knowing. After a check bounces, the bank is forced to deduct what was credited to the account. At that point, the bank reserves the right to take money from one’s other accounts or sue to recover the lost funds.
The woman never responded to Bybel’s last email. Once he discovered the scam, he researched pet scams, finding a website with other people’s similar stories.
“People had copied and pasted their emails to the website. They were almost identical. They used bad English and had a religious slant to try to gain your trust,” he said.
In every case, the disguised buyer asked to have money wired to them, and oftentimes, the seller agreed.
Bybel said he feels lucky that he lost no money and that the issue was resolved.
“What stuck out in my mind most is that I was slightly suspicious the whole time, but it was never big enough to make me want to stop contact. When it became extremely clear that I was being scammed, it was scary,” he said.
He said the experience was unusual because he has had multiple positive buying and selling experiences online through eBay and Craigslist.
“I’ve bought many things with no problems. Only meet with people who don’t want to deal with checks. Cash is the only way, and meet face to face.”

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