Clueless about Craigslist
July 15, 2014 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Is this response to my Craigslist ad weird/a scam?

I posted an ad about an air conditioning unit I'm interested in selling. Someone inquired, I responded with price & that it was still available, this was their response:

"Awesome...Thanks for your quick reply.Am glad it's available.I'm going on a business trip but I will instruct my assistant to prepare and mail your payment which I'm sure you will get in about 4 - 6 business days. I'll add $20 extra for the delay. I'll pay by Money Order or certified cashier check so send me your info (i.e full name, mailing address and your phone number) so payment can be mailed out immediately. I will also make arrangement for pick-up which will be after you must have received and cashed the payment. Awaiting your info"

It seems weird that they are offering more than I asked and that they don't even want to look at it. I'm in the process of moving so I don't really have a good mailing address or time to wait around even if this is legit, but I want to know if I'm just being paranoid or if this is unusual.
posted by brittanyq to Work & Money (17 answers total)
Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.
posted by phunniemee at 11:43 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]

Yep, 100% a scam, no question. Tell them you will only accept cash, they won't be interested, call it a day.
posted by brainmouse at 11:44 AM on July 15 [15 favorites]

OMG. LOL. Yes, that is a scam.

Anyone who wants to wire you a payment or send a check for a relatively small payment is scamming you. The fact that they are offering to pay more than the asking price screams scam, too. I mean, it's an air conditioner. You really actually believe someone would go through all that trouble for an air conditioner? A little common sense goes a long way.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:44 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]

The website is acting goofy right now, but I wanted to add this: You should really read Craiglist's FAQ on scams. Basic guidelines are only 1) accept cash, 2) meet in person, 3) meet in a public place or with people/notify others of meetings, 4) if something seems too good to be true, it is.

The email in your post reads like a generic auto-reply with absolutely no specifics, which is another giant red flag.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:03 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]

Never accept anything but simple, straight up hard cash for any Craigslist transaction. That will weed out like 98% of all scammers on Craigslist.
posted by raztaj at 12:04 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]

For those who know about this scam -- what is the end-game for the scammer? Is someone actually going to come pick up the A/C?
posted by allnamesaretaken at 2:09 PM on July 15

"For those who know about this scam -- what is the end-game for the scammer? Is someone actually going to come pick up the A/C?"

The cashier's check will look real but it's fake. The buyer will send it for WAY more than the price of the air conditioner - whoops! -- and ask that you wire him the rest.. but keep $200 for your troubles or some such. Two weeks later it turns out the cashier's check was fake and you are on the hook for the entire amount.
posted by crayon at 2:19 PM on July 15 [12 favorites]

what is the end-game for the scammer

-They send you a check for more than you agreed on.

-Blah blah blah some bullshit about how the bank wrote the wrong number, boss will be out of the country, can't get a new one printed.

-They ask you to wire them back the extra amount.

-You deposit the check, looks ok, you wire the money.

-haha just kidding actually that check bounced

-You sent them free money.

Back when I was unemployed and had nothing to do but sit around my house with my thumbs up my butt I took one of these bros up on the scam. Oh, yeah, that's great, yes I totally believe that you will pay me $180 for this three year old bar stool I bought at Target for 20 bucks, let's do this!

Got as far as them sending me a check via UPS which I unfortunately wasn't home to receive and was too lazy to actually go to the distribution center to pick up, so didn't get that, but the sorry we missed you UPS tag was noted with "Tandy Champagne" as the shipper.

The scammer was very, very upset when I told them I missed the delivery.
posted by phunniemee at 2:21 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]

My daughter fell for something like this and the certified check was accepted by her bank, then it took several days to get processed and rejected, and she was left holding the bag for the money and a bunch of bounce fees.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:22 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]

Yea, basically the same thing happened to me about 4 times when I was trying to sell my 40' sailboat on there. Almost verbatim. Wanting to pick up "the item" or have "the item" "boxed up and shipped" once the over-payment was received. The image of trying to box up the sailboat was entertaining, that's for sure. Easier to see with a boat than an A/C, but scam nonetheless. They'll want you to wire some of the money back and the certified check with have delayed routing numbers on it and end up being fake and then gets held against your account. See this story for a much better idea of how it pans out...
posted by danapiper at 2:26 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]

You can often search for phrases from scam emails if you're unsure.

Scammers are fond of cut and paste; often you can confirm a hunch this way. keep in mind that if you don't find results doesn't mean it's not a scam, though.
posted by lesli212 at 2:59 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]

IIRC, banks must clear (or reject) checks within 10 days of deposit.

So if you really want to test this out (maybe for the scammy entertainment) then go ahead and receive the check and deposit it. The bank will tell you the money is available immediately, because they are friendly. Then wait at least 10 days - the check should fail and the money will be removed from your account.

Of course, this means you also make the buyer wait at least 10 days for the check to clear, and they will probably not agree to that... (because they know it won't clear)
posted by jpeacock at 4:03 PM on July 15

i had this happen with a car i was selling about 10 years ago. i knew it was a scam so i played along and got them to send me a cashier's check for something like 4000....which i immediately put in another envelope and mailed to my local FBI field office with an explanation and the original correspondence. then i emailed the scammer back and told them to suck it and that the FBI now had their fingerprints from all over the fake check.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 4:09 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]

IIRC, banks must clear (or reject) checks within 10 days of deposit.

The thing that hooks so many people here is that many banks will make the funds available to you sooner than that -- and this often thought of as a check "clearing" but it will bounce after the funds are available, and if you have taken the money out of your account to send to the scammer you might not have enough money in your account to prevent bounced checks and fees.
posted by yohko at 4:12 PM on July 15

"Awesome...Thanks for your quick reply.Am glad it's available.I

Got this far, and already thinking scam. Weird random punctuation (no spaces after the full stops) already setting off the scam radar.

I'm going on a business trip but I will instruct my assistant to prepare and mail your payment

I'm out of the country but my assistant will pay you = scam

I'll add $20 extra for the delay.

I'll pay you more than you asked, umprompted! = scam

I'll pay by Money Order or certified cashier check

I'll pay by a method that can be forged (unlike cash, Paypal, bank transfer) = scam
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:45 PM on July 15

Yup, scam. Your spidey-senses are functioning at optimal levels.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:50 PM on July 15

One more common clue: The first inquiry comes very quickly after you post, and/or is sent at some odd time like 4 a.m.
posted by yclipse at 4:18 AM on July 16

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