Steamboat Springs A Steamboat Springs homeowner nearly lost $5,000 this week to a foreign scam that police officials are likening to a series of scams that hit four North Routt County businesses last October.
Routt County Sheriff's Office Investigator Ken Klinger said a woman who advertises her home rental on the Internet was contacted by someone who said they wanted to rent it for four nights. The person allegedly sent her $5,000 in fraudulent Canadian money orders.
The cost of the four-night rental was less than $900, and the person asked the woman to cash the money orders and send back the excess payment, Klinger said.
The woman already had been to the bank and was getting ready to return the surplus funds when a Western Union employee thought the woman's transaction seemed unusual, Klinger said.
"She was all ready to send back that money that would have come out her pocket if that person hadn't stopped her," he said.
Although this potential victim got lucky, Klinger said other Routt County residents might not have the same good fortune. He warned people to be suspicious of anyone who overpays for a service and requests the extra money to be returned.
In October 2006, four North Routt County bed and breakfasts, cabins and small hotels were hit by a similar scam originating from the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
"The only difference here is it looks like these people are going after individuals who rent their homes instead of small businesses," he said.
Suspicious transactions should be reported to the Routt County Sheriff's Office or the Steamboat Springs Police Department.