When purchasing items through an online auction, Arkansans should be aware that criminals routinely steal money and don’t provide the product. It is important to know how to safely bid on online auction websites to avoid this common fraud, according to a press release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Scammers might post sales for vehicles, boats and other items that turn out to be fake or already sold.

Other times, the item being sold is legitimate, but the con artists will purchase the item and send a counterfeit check or money order for an amount greater than the item to the legitimate seller. The seller will then be told to deposit the payment, deduct the actual sale price and return the difference, leaving the seller on the hook for the entire amount of the check or money order.

Other common internet auction scams include wire transfer schemes and second-chance schemes.

“Online auction sites can produce some of the best deals, but there is always risk doing business with an unknown seller especially one that turns out to be overseas,” Rutledge said. “Knowing what to do before placing a bid and the warning signs of fraud can save a lot of time and money in the long run.”

Arkansans should keep these tips in mind before placing a bid:

• Contact the seller with any questions about payment options or questions about the item.

• Review the seller’s feedback on the internet auction site.

• Stay away or be very cautious when dealing with sellers or purchasers out of the country.

• Understand the refund, return and warranty policies of the auction site.

• Determine the shipping method and charges before buying.

• Stay away or be very cautious if the seller only accepts wire transfers.

• If the seller insists on an escrow service, ensure it is legitimate.

• Participants may want to insure the purchased item.

• Stay away from unsolicited offers.

Details: Arkansas Attorney General’s office, 800-482-8982, consumer@arkansasag.gov or ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.