Tangling with CraigsList scam artists

by Fred Showker

Craigslist scammers try to rip Fred off'twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, someone is getting seriously ripped off by an online scammer through Craig's List. Some experts have estimated that millions of dollars will be lost this holiday season because victims didn't immediately recognize they were being scammed.

Here's my most recent example. I'm in the process of running an ad for my Roadtrek on Craig's List. Within hours of posting, I get this email from a buyer! Yeah!

 > Subject: 2005 Roadtrek 190 Versatile
 > From : Jane Kimberly
 >    
 > STILL AVAILABLE FOR SALE?
 >    

So, hoping this is a hot lead, I whip out a quick reply that "yes" it is available. Moments later I get this response :

 > From: Jacob Loando 
 > Re: 2005 Roadtrek 190 Versatile
 > 
 > Thanks for your response, I am quite okay with your price, I need you
 > to understand that I am willing and ready to purchase it right away,
 > put it off the AD site, consider me as your favorite buyer, and Please
 > note that I have a shipper/mover who handles my shipping arrangement
 > anywhere in the world,he would be coming for the pickup, after you
 > have received payment, which would be through paypal, If this is
 > acceptable, advice soon as I am an hydrographer and I am buying this
 > for my son,I am at work right now .I can only pay through pay pal at
 > the moment as I do not have access to my bank account online,but I
 > have it attached to my pay pal account, and this is why I insisted on
 > using pay pal to pay,all I will need is your paypal email address to
 > make the payments,and if you do not have a pay pal account yet,its
 > pretty easy to set one up at www.paypal.com,i will be expecting  your
 > email.I have a pick up agent that  will come for the pick up after
 > payments has been sorted. I want you to provide me with the following
 > information for me to proceed with the Payment...
 > 
 > Your PayPal e-Mail Address :
 > Full name:
 > Your Full Contact address:
 > 
 >  Note: i'll also include the Shipping company's fee
 >  so kindly Get back to me with your PayPal email account
 >  so i can proceed with the payment asap..
 >  Thanks
 > Looking forward to read from you.

That, of course sent up flags and alarms going off -- but only because I am tuned to recognizing online scams. Many internet users may not recognize the scam immediately and send their info in response . . .

The writer rendered tell-tale clues that this is a SCAM : 1) the response was nearly instant. Hmmmmm, a watched or automated email address? 2) they want to pay through PayPal, 3) 3rd party delivery with no mention or indication of geographic location and 4) some strange wording. They've got to be kidding!

So, I decided to play along and see where it went . . .

Here's my reply:

 > Sorry ...
 > 
 > unfortunately we will NOT conduct business through payPal or
 > any 3rd party representative unless having FIRST received
 > full payment via cash or suitable tender negotiable at a
 > LOCAL bank, here in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
 > 
 > You are free to work through your mover/shipper, who can
 > physically inspect the vehicle, and render payment at
 > that time.
 > 
 > Thanks again for writing
 > 
 > Fred
 > http://www.safenetting.com/

This response would separate the crook from an authentic buyer. If the buyer was seriously interested in the vehicle, the next reply should be some discussion on how to proceed -- or else, no reply at alll. (Which is what I expected) Low and behold, the next time I looked in the mail, here was yet ANOTHER response!

I'm laughing out loud -- now the reply is from someone else, at a different email address . . .

 > From: Eric Summer 
 > Re: 2005 Roadtrek 190 Versatile - $47500 (Shenandoah Valley Virginia)
 > 
 > Great ... i will appreciate to see more pictures ......... I am
 > buying this for my Uncle as a gift so am willing to offer you the
 > amount you  required. I can only pay through PayPal at the moment
 > because am a military  man and am at sea right now,all i will need is
 > your PayPal email address to  for the item, and if you don't have a
 > PayPal account yet, you can set one up  at www.PayPal.com  it cant take
 > you less than 3 mins to do that and get back  to me with the name you
 > use open your PayPal email account so l can pay for the item in time. I
 > have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up after  payments
 > has been proceed.
 > 
 > I will be waiting for your reply asap...
 > 
 > Regard  Eric

This smells of an semi-automated reply system. This sender obviously did not see my earlier reply, and doesn't know that I was already sent a similar message, under a different name and email address. Notice it's a different "gift" now to an uncle, where the first inquiry said for his son! And, since there's no reference to the product in either email -- this is evidence they are scammers. How stupid do they think I am???

So I've responded to this THIRD persona with exactly the same response as before -- but alas, as you expected, this time no response at all. Discussion is over.

Craig's List offers this sage advice :

You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
  • NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
  • AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
  • DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN - in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
  • DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.

If you post or shop for merchandise on Craig's List -- which is actually very good -- then FIRST, read all of the information and warnings they provide. At this link you'll also find some really good tips on dealing with their system, and some of the people who frequent it . . .

www.craigslist.org/about/scams

Thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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Unless noted otherwise, this page and content was authored by Fred Showker, Editor and Publisher of DTG Magazine and 60-Seconds.com. You can hook up with Fred at +FredShowker, on Google+ or most social medias @Showker



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