COVINGTON, Wash. – Apps like OfferUp and Letgo are turning into 21st Century garage sales. You let someone in your garage, you trade money for what you’re selling, and then you expect that everything will be OK.
But one local couple learned the hard way that isn’t always the case.
Casey Klaudt of Covington said he had been messaging back-and-forth with a potential buyer on OfferUp for his Yamaha dirt bike. He listed it on the app, along with a welder, for $400, he said.
About 10 p.m. on Sept. 22, two men randomly show up at Klaudt's home, without messaging him beforehand. The men were the people interested in the bike on OfferUp.
The two men show up in an older, red Ford Ranger pickup truck. Klaudt and the men talked for a little while. One of the men gave him the money, and they took the items.
It was when Klaudt handed the money to his girlfriend that drew the red flags. Layla Whitehead knew immediately that the money was counterfeit. She said she had been trained to notice the difference from her time as a bartender.
Once they realized the money was fake, they tried contacting the men. But investigators said the buyers had changed their app screen names, and they were long gone.
“That was going to be extra spending cash for our vacation. We never go on vacation. We thought a couple hundred bucks might make the vacation more fun,” said Klaudt.
Klaudt and Whitehead reported the theft immediately to authorities. King County Sheriff’s Office investigators are hoping you recognize the suspects or their truck.
According to investigators, one of the men is described as 6’3’’ and stocky. The other man is described as a heavy-set male.
Investigators said unfortunately, they are seeing more cases like this.
“We are seeing an increase in counterfeit money and it’s a really good reminder to everybody to really be cautious and really be aware of the money you’re getting if you're selling on OfferUp. Or you happen to work in a store and you’re getting cash, be really sure, do all the extra security measures that you can do,” said Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Federal Reserve, the best thing you can do to make sure cash isn’t fake, is to hold the money up to a light and look for a watermark or security thread.
In terms of transactions on these apps, authorities say the best advice is to do the transactions at designated safe spots, like at police stations.
If you recognize the truck or the two men, please call Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS, or you can use the P3 Tips App on your phone.