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Am I being scammed on Craigslist?
September 3, 2011 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Am I being scammed on Craigslist?

I put an ad up on CL to try to sell a 5 piece furniture set for $500. One woman showed significant interest and I was hoping I would finally get the stuff out of my house. However, I have become very suspicious of our exchange. I'm being scammed, right? Here is the e-mail exchange:

CL person:

Is the posted item available and i hope is in good condition?

Me:

The set is still available. As I said in my ad, there is some cosmetic wear, but it is in very good physical condition. Let me know if you want to come take a look at it or have any other questions.

CL person:

Thank you for the response, I will be sending a Certified Draft which
is generally acceptable to cover the cost as am completely
interested. I will need the details below of whom & where to mail the
payment;

1.Name to be on the check
2.Home or office address
3.Cellphone number

Please note that Courier Service do not deliver to P.O Box. However,
my mover will
pick up the item right after the payment as been delivered. Kindly
delete the posting as am committed to buying it. I recently move here
on a job transfer and it's a great buy. Here is my relay number
(###) ###-#### am hearing impaired and will receive your phone
messages via email. Hope to read from you shortly.
Best regards

Me:

A certified check for $500 should be fine.

Make the check out to ----- -----. My address is the following:

----------------
--------------------

My cell number is (###) ###-####. I will let you know when I receive and cash the payment, after which your mover can come pick up the furniture.

CL Person:

I have since receive the confirmation from my secretary and a certified check which i believe is easier and faster as been issued to your name and address as provided by you some hours ago and would be delivered via priority mail within 2 days ,but to my greatest surprise the payment was issued out to the sum of $2810 instead of the actual cost of my purchase . She claimed that i requested for that amount to be issued out to you but am very sure i only made a request for just the cost of my purchase.This is a terrible mistake and i was just informed about this so please once the check is delivered please take it to your Bank and have it cashed

You will then deduct the cost of my purchase plus an extra $100 to offset the cost of your run around expenses.The rest of the fund should be sent to my mover via Money Gram money transfer which is available in every Walmart or K-Mart store around you the same day so that my mover can make the trip over for the pick at once. **I will need your response via email assuring me that i can trust you to handle this with utmost care and have the remaining fund returned appropriately as requested and will hope that your intentions remains noble though out the duration of this transaction**

-----------------------------

That is the extent of our interaction so far. I have not responded to her last message. Is this a scam? If so, how does she benefit? How should I proceed?
posted by efsrous to Computers & Internet (34 answers total)
 
Yes, obviously. I didn't even read more than a few lines. 100% yes.
posted by User7 at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


SCAM. Don't sell anything on Craigslist that someone won't buy from you in person. And for god's sake, don't take checks.
posted by sugarfish at 1:01 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scam scam scam. It's obvious from her first sentence, inquiring about the availability of your "posted item"
posted by gnutron at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scam.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, 100% a scam. The check will bounce, several weeks after you've paid her the "extra" money, which she now has, along with your furniture. You have nothing.
posted by brainmouse at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Scam. The check will bounce, and you'll be liable for the full amount.
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd be changing your cell number, too. Or watching very carefully for third-party charges and the like.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the cash back thing is a classic scam.
posted by limeonaire at 1:03 PM on September 3, 2011


Is the posted item available and i hope is in good condition?

I got this far, and SCAM. I put a car up for sale last month (in the UK) and got an email saying "Is the item still available and how much is it". You can pretty much guarantee that any response that starts "Is the item still for sale" is a scam.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:04 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, completely commonplace overpayment scam. Use of MoneyGram is also very common for scammers.
posted by tel3path at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2011


See also.
posted by limeonaire at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2011


Ok, I read the rest of your question. She's asking you to send her a check for the difference: ~$2210. Her check will end up bouncing. You will lose the money you sent her.

Any time anyone ever asks you to send back the difference it is a scam. ALWAYS.

Also, their english sucks, they have a weird phone relay service, and no real person buys things in this manner.

You know what, just read this:

http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams
posted by User7 at 1:05 PM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


And in case it's not obvious, the reason they always refer to the "item" is because they can send that exact same email to every single person on Craigslist, instead of having to actually refer to what it is you're selling (e.g. a real person would ask "Is the couch still available?").
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, for fun, you can try to waste their time, or just about other people who do:

http://www.419eater.com/index.php
posted by User7 at 1:09 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You may want to call up your bank, too, and let them know the details. They will have previous experience with this scam and will know if there's anything else that needs to be done to protect your information.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 1:10 PM on September 3, 2011


Okay, well I figured by the last e-mail that I had been pretty gullible and stupid, just wanted to verify. So, is someone knowing my cell number and address really dangerous? What could happen now that the scammer has that information?
posted by efsrous at 1:13 PM on September 3, 2011


scam

Cash is the only way to go on CL. There are just no protections on the site.

I almost don't even trust cash transactions from CL there are so many scammers there.
posted by lampshade at 1:15 PM on September 3, 2011


Okay, well I figured by the last e-mail that I had been pretty gullible and stupid, just wanted to verify. So, is someone knowing my cell number and address really dangerous? What could happen now that the scammer has that information?

Don't worry about it, just ignore them and they will spend their time on more worthwhile pursuits (i.e. other people who don't spot the scam).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2011


Yes, scammitty scammitty scam. Just for shits, I followed through once with one of the scammer guys (knowing full well it was a scam, obviously). I talked them up to a 700% mark-up on my bar stools (probably could have kept negotiating higher, but I got bored), then gave them an old address for check delivery (thinking it would be forwarded to me by the post office), so they didn't know where I lived. (For those concerned about the people living at my old address, it was a sizable and well-maintained apartment building with good security; I also didn't give a unit number.)

Anyway, instead of arriving by USPS (as agreed upon, haha), the check (which I obviously was never going to even try to cash) came by UPS, so I missed it. I was hoping to have a check to show people, but that didn't pan out. Instead all I have is the "sorry we missed you, returning to sender" postcard that UPS sends when they fail delivery several times.

The "company" that wanted to buy my ridiiiiculously overpriced, generic bar stools was listed as "Tandy Champagne/DBA Christie" on the shipper's information line. After delivery failed, I sent an "angry" email to the scammer getting all belligerent about how they were supposed to pay me and why didn't they pay me and blah blah blah I've decided to sell my bar stools to someone ELSE!" And they responded, "WHATEVER, BITCH!" and went to work flagging every single craigslist post I made for the next month. (I was moving, so there were a lot.)

...And that's my scammer story.

TANDY CHAMPAGNE, WHO ARE YOU? WHY DO YOU SUCK?
posted by phunniemee at 1:19 PM on September 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


"Is [your x] still for sale?" not a scam.
"Is the item still for sale?" scam.
Anything other than cash, in person: scam.
posted by jeather at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Total scam. The cheque is a forgery or stolen. It'll bounce, you'll be out your furniture and the money and your bank would be entitled to close your account because it's been used for fraudulent activity, albeit that you are not the fraudster, but the bank will say you should have known better.

Phunnimee, a co-worker and I kept up a dialogue for a few weeks with a scammer named Jesus Champagne. He's probably chosen a name which he thought would radiate both class and trust.
posted by essexjan at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


I usually write back and say Please stop stealing from people. I wouldn't worry about the phone number.
posted by theora55 at 1:28 PM on September 3, 2011


Scam.
posted by tomswift at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2011


I have a really simple rule for Craigslist - in the posting I ask for a contact phone number. If the responder doesn't give a contact number in the first message, I delete it. I filter out some potential-non-scams, but it's never been a problem before. "Is the item still available and what is the condition" seems to be the universal indicator of SCAM. Sometimes they will even ask for pictures when there are clear pictures in the Craigslist post.

Also, if that isn't enough to trip your scam meter: In the past 5 years, no actual craigslist buyer has asked me (1) to remove the listing or (2) accept anything other than cash payment. These are not quirks, they are near-100% signals of a scam.
posted by muddgirl at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


to my greatest surprise the payment was issued out to the sum of $2810 instead of the actual cost of my purchase

Even if you still believed the person up to this point, this is totally ridiculous. Who would accept an incorrect certified check amount from their bank and still just go ahead and try to use it? I would be pissed off at my bank for giving me this ridiculous amount when I specifically asked for what I asked for, and they would have to change it. They are hoping you view this as amazing luck and ignore all those "maybe this is too good to be true" alarms going off in your head.

Which brings us to the point of what you should do if you actually get the "check" in the mail. Not sure if they'd still attempt the transaction if you don't respond to this person's last mail. I don't know if it would be better for you to totally ignore it or to respond saying the item is no longer available, or simply that you are not a noble person and cannot be trusted with such a big responsibility, and besides that the item is no longer available.

Before you do anything/nothing, it might be worth filing a police report if you're still worried about someone showing up at your house. Certainly if you do end up getting this check in the mail, give that to them also.
posted by wondermouse at 1:37 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


My girlfriend got taken by this exact scam and got about as far as you did. She received the bizarro-huge check in the mail and then told me about it, at which point I informed her of the scam and she simply stopped responding to the buyer. If you ignore these scammers, even if you have already initiated the scam...they will usually leave you alone. They work several marks at a time and respond only to the ones that they continually have on the hook...

In the future, you might add this sentence to anything you sell on Craigslist:

"Payment in person, in cash, local pickup only."

This will save you a lot of trouble. Assume Craigslist is for things you want to sell locally, and use something like Ebay if you are selling stuff you might want to ship.
posted by jnnla at 1:45 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dont bother worrying about the number, address, etc. Just ignore them.
posted by User7 at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


as others have said - scam.
A tip to cut down on this sort of thing- I always include these as the first two lines in any craigslist ad in bold :
If the ad is up then this item is still available.
You must leave a phone number for me to call you back if you want a response (scam/spam prevention)


No phone number - I delete the email
If the person asks "is this item still available?" - I delete the email

BTW The "Is this item still available" email is merely an email harvesting scam. They don't care they just want you unanonymized email address.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:45 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scammy scam scam scam.

I buy a lot of stuff off of Craigslist, and I sell stuff there as well. When I sell stuff, my mantra is "cash in hand, in full, in person."
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:31 PM on September 3, 2011


I tell scammers to make the check out to Michelle Bachmann and then I donate it to her campaign and never ship the merchandise. Win, win, win.



I'm kidding, of course, but just nthing what others are saying, this is totally a scam.
posted by 4ster at 6:38 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


No has come right out and said it yet, but this is a scam.
posted by Argyle at 7:21 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm familiar with the scam, what I never understood is why they ask you to delete your post.
posted by mulligan at 11:47 PM on September 3, 2011


Total scam, and tip for the future, if weirdly written emails are making your spidey sense tingle, try googling particularly unusual phrases. My experience is that these types of scammers rarely vary their emails at all. So for example a Google search for "am hearing impaired and will receive your phone messages"* turns up a bunch of results of other people who've received the same email and decided it is a scam.

*I picked this at random, I'm hearing impaired myself and certainly not saying use of a relay service means a scammer. (Though that's not how the relay services I'm used to work, I must say.)
posted by lwb at 5:32 AM on September 4, 2011


I'm familiar with the scam, what I never understood is why they ask you to delete your post.

Some number of people selling things on Craigslist have never done it before and figure that it's just how things are done, so when they get suspicious, the scammer acts all offended and says, "This is how it's done on Craigslist, duh!" and they have no other offers in their inbox to compare it to.
posted by Etrigan at 1:57 PM on September 4, 2011


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