Published: Jun 15, 2012 4:50 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 15, 2012 10:27 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A young woman looking for work on Craigslist contacted the Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud line to report that she was duped out of $2,600 by an online scammer claiming to need a “caretaker” for her mother who was planning to move to the Southwest Florida area.

After corresponding by email with the scammer, the victim received a check in the mail for $2,950 with instructions to keep a portion of the funds and send the balance to a location in Hammond, Louisiana. The scammer claimed that the funds would be used by a real estate agent to rent a home for her mom in Lee County.

Not realizing that she was caught in the middle of an advanced fee scam, the woman wired several thousand dollars via MoneyGram and then spent a portion of the money she had left.

The next day, the woman received a phone call from the “real estate agent” and was told that she needed to send an additional $500 in order to receive the keys to the home her “client” would be renting. The victim advised the caller that she did not have that much money, but did agree to send another $250.

When keys to the home never arrived, the victim became suspicious and contacted the Sheriff’s Office.

These types of scam can be avoided if you follow these simple rules:

-NEVER wire money to someone you do not know. Once money is wired and received it cannot be recovered and unfortunately you will be at a loss for any money transferred.

-Never agree to deposit a check from someone who says to send some of the money back.

-Beware of fake checks, cashier checks and money orders. Even if the bank accepts the check and releases the funds, you will be held responsible for all withdrawn funds when the fake check or money order is eventually discovered.

-Beware of job offers that sound too good to be true.

-Never give out financial information such as your bank account number, social security number, eBay or PayPal information.

-Do not submit to credit or background checks for a job until you have met the interviewer in person.

Craigslist comes in handy when looking for work; however, it is very important to be on the lookout for any of the above red flags.

If you suspect that a Craigslist post may be part of a scam you should report it to Craigslist, www.ic3.gov or the Lee County Sheriff’s Office fraud line at 239-477-1242. Media inquiries should be directed to 477-1037.