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Colorado woman warns community after becoming victim of check fraud

Colorado woman warns community after becoming victim of check fraud
Colorado woman warns community after becoming victim of check fraud 03:38

With each delicate keystroke on her piano, Gay Wandell fills her Commerce City home with music and joy.

"I have a beautiful piano that I love, and I didn't want to sell it because it brings me a lot of joy and happiness to play," she said.

Playing gives her a boost of light, which has been much needed after a recently dark experience.

"It's such a horror story," said Wandell.

Wandell says she almost sold this piano two weeks ago to help pay for dental work. Instead, she became the victim of check fraud.


"I put an ad on Craigslist and a lady responded who allegedly lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming," said Wandell. "She contacted me. Said she wanted to buy the piano. So, I told her the price and I said just make sure how you pay me is certified funds. So, she agreed to that."

Wandell shared a text chain spanning several days with a month between her and the alleged buyer, who mailed a supposed check for $3,600 on May 8. Wandell showed CBS News Colorado a copy of what the check looked like. She deposited that check into her U.S. Bank savings account right away.

$1,800 to cover the cost that Wandell asked for the purchase of the piano. However, the buyer requested for Wandell to use the rest of the money from the check to pay the movers that would come to collect the piano.

"Me being the nice person that I am, I said sure, I'll go do it," said Wandell. "Two days later I find out it was fraudulent. I immediately called her. She never answered the phone."

By then, Wandell had already taken money out of that account and mailed two money orders totaling $1,700. After not getting ahold of the buyer by phone, she tried to reach her via text.

"She said, she would wire me money to cover the check that didn't clear. So, I waited till the next day, tried to get ahold of her, no response. That's when I knew," said Wandell, "I would never get the money back."


A spokesperson with the Federal Trade Commission says it is hard to tell if someone has received a fake check. While banks are required to deposit a check as soon as they receive one, it could still take days, or even weeks before they can verify if it's real.

This gives scammers a window of opportunity, where they might have you take out the money you "deposited" to pay for something.

"It's embarrassing, humiliating, degrading," said Wandell. "I don't think they have a conscience, they don't care that they're hurting somebody, that they're causing somebody like me to be destitute with zero money."

Wandell says she is out more than $3,000 because of the money that she took out other account to pay for the alleged movers and other personal bills. She also says all her accounts are closed while the bank investigates her case.

"I don't live in a bubble, I've heard about scams, I've never heard of certified check scams," said Wandell.  

As she struggles to get her life back on the right note, her nightmare is a lesson for others to be careful of how or who they receive money from.

"Craigslist, Nextdoor, Offer Up, anything like that," she said, "Don't ever take a check from somebody, even if it's a certified check. Make them pay you with cash."


Wandell has already filed a report with the Commerce City Police Department and says her bank is investigating the case. However, it could take several weeks before she learns any information. 

The FTC urges anyone who is a victim of this or similar fraud to also file a complaint at and also file a similar compliant with your state's Attorneys General's Office.

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