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Consumer Alert: Man gets bogus checks after listing stove on Craigslist

Charles Despres said his 1979 Scandia wood stove is in pretty good condition, but it's definitely not worth a combined $3,550. (WJAR)

Charles Despres said his 1979 Scandia wood stove is in pretty good condition, but it's definitely not worth a combined $3,550.

“I almost thought that my stove was really popular and just a really nice stove, you know,” Despres, who lives in North Providence, laughed.

Despres was only asking $250 when he listed the stove on Craigslist in late November.

Within two hours, he said he had a bite. Someone going by the name "Katrina Fordley" wanted to purchase the stove, but claimed to live in Denver and couldn't pick it up.

“’I can't come and get it,’ said Despres, recalling the conversation. "'So, what you should do is cash the check, get the cash, deduct the cost of the stove, give the rest of the cash to my transporter.’”

Despres was floored when a $1,950 check arrived, which was nearly 10 times the list price of the stove.

It wasn't long before another supposedly interested buyer jumped in -- a person claiming to be from California mailed Despres a $1,600 check.

Despres knew something was up.

“I took it to the North Providence (Police Department), who said that it was a scam,” said Despres.

The North Providence Police Department told NBC 10 News that banks will initially clear bogus checks and let you withdraw the money. By the time the bank realizes the check is fake, you've already paid the scammer. Now, you're on the hook to pay back the bank, as well as a bounced check fee.

Despres said he also notified his bank and the Attorney General's Office, but because he didn't cash the checks, there isn't much the agencies can do.

Craigslist warns buyers and sellers that you should only deal locally, adding that money should always be exchanged in person.

Despres said his woodstove is still available, but from now on, he'll only be accepting offers from local buyers.

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