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Scam Warning: Suzie Potossis Shares Story Of Being Hustled Out Of $1,700 While Trying To Sell Products Online

FAIRLAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - It's cybersecurity awareness month in New Jersey, and one woman is doing just that, sharing how, when she was trying to declutter and make some money, she was scammed out of more than $1,700.

Suzie Potossis spoke with CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.

"I was embarrassed. I was mad at myself. How could I fall for this?" she said.

What began as an attempt to make some extra money after Potossis, an event planner, lost her job in the coronavirus pandemic, turned into the mother of three losing cash.

MORE: Scammers Sending Fake Texts To Try To Get Personal Information

"Seventeen hundred dollars right now, in a pandemic, hurts a lot," Potossis said.

It all started with her selling small items online. She then turned to the mobile marketplace OfferUp to list a table set, corresponding with a buyer first through the app, then moving to text.

"It looks like you guys corresponded a lot," DeAngelis said.

"A lot. I think that's why my guard was down," Potossis said.

Suzie Potossis
Porossis shows CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis some of the messages she traded with her scammer. (credit: CBS2)

They sent pictures, scheduled pickup and arranged payment.

MORE: Better Business Bureau Warns Scammers Are Sending College Students Fake Job Offers

"This was the first red flag. 'I'm in the hospital due to my granny being ill and also the payment should be delivered to you Wednesday or Thursday, but there's a little problem, my secretary mistakenly included the shipping fee with the check,'" Potossis said.

Sure enough, she received a cashier's check for $2,630.33 -- way over her $900 asking price.

"I said, well, I can just rip it up and you can send me a new one. He's like no, I trust that you're gonna do the right thing," she said. "[He said] so you're gonna send $1,000 through Zelle ... and the remaining you can do through Venmo."

With her integrity in question, she sent him back the $1,730.33 he apparently overpaid, but then learned the check she mobile-deposited into her account didn't clear. She called her bank, which had bad news.

"Since COVID, scams like this are on the rise, and there's not much they can do because the app, Zelle, that they use to transfer the money is just the middleman ... It's basically like sending cash," Potossis said.

MORE: Coronavirus Texting Scam Targeting Parishioners In Northern Suburbs

"It is ideal to try to do these types of transactions through credit cards, banks or other financial institutions. Depending on the nature of your account and the nature of the bank, you may have a little more recourse, or you may be able to stop payment," said cybersecurity expert Siobhan Gorman.

DeAngelis reached out to OfferUp, which urges users to keep purchases in the app so it can track any issues like this. Its digital investigation team follows up when police reports are filed. Potossis said that's the next step.

"What's your hope in sharing your story?" DeAngelis asked.

"That this doesn't happen to anybody else," she said.

Lesson learned, and shared.

This went on for about two weeks and eventually the "buyer" stopped answering her text messages.

She says she Googled the phone number and saw she wasn't the first to be scammed and is wishing she took that extra five minutes and hopes the next person might.

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