How to purchase an item from Craigslist long distance?
November 26, 2008 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way to ensure a Craigslist sale is legit for an item I want to purchase in another city?

There's an antique item that's being listed for sale in Boca Raton, and I really really want it. The price is reasonable and the seller seems on the up&up (sent me some extra photos when I asked for them). Problem: I'm in West Virginia, & Craigslist always says "deal locally" and not to deal with fake escrow (smart advice). Is there *any* way to purchase this item without running the risk of a scam?
posted by media_itoku to Shopping (7 answers total)
Only if you have a friend in Boca Raton, who's willing to buy it in person. I did once buy a (fairly expensive) craigslist item from a distant city, because I'd talked (via phone) with the seller enough to trust him, but there's no getting away from the risk here.
posted by jon1270 at 12:21 PM on November 26, 2008

One thing you could do to somewhat put your mind at ease would be to have a video chat with the seller and see the object in that chat. It verifies that s/he has the item. (Live chat ensures that the item is still around, etc.) However, it doesn't guarantee that the item will get shipped to you, and other complications. But it would tell you that they have it.
posted by Hactar at 12:32 PM on November 26, 2008

Someone from another city bought a nav device from me over CL and had us meet him at the hotel he was staying in for a conference.

Our suggestion was for him to pay by Paypal, because they have that purchase protection thing, and we'd know the money was good while he was sure he'd get his item. We did it his way, though (cash, even!) and it all worked out.

I still think the Paypal idea was a good one, though.
posted by batmonkey at 2:01 PM on November 26, 2008

Pay half up front, the rest on delivery.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:35 PM on November 26, 2008

You could have him sell it to you on ebay for the price you agreed on and use their buyer protection programs.
posted by JimmyJames at 3:38 PM on November 26, 2008

One piece of advice: take some key phrases from the CL ad and put them into Google. See if you pull up any results that are similar.

My brother, a very smart man, called me up about a boat on CL. It wasn't one of those "too good to be true" kind of deals, it was a fair price for the type of boat.

But the guy sent him this really odd note about using one of those ebay resellers as the go-between and half the money up front, and it just struck me as wrong. Like he wanted to do escrow, but the company he said he woudl use for escrow *wasnt * an escrow company. I looked up the CL advice and none of these companies were recommended (and the guy made a point of saying, all these companies are recommended by CL and eBay).

So my curiosity got the better of me and I googled some of the sentences in the note. Voila. The EXACT SAME language was being used for a scam to sell electric guitars, 50's car parts, and baseball memorabilia, from completely different names/email addresses on completely different websites.

caveat emptor.

i don't think it's possible for this to end well unless you have a reason to be in boca raton.
posted by micawber at 8:51 PM on November 26, 2008

I don't know if Paypal has any protection for purchases outside of ebay, and even with those I don't know if it's worth much. You'll have to look into what standards of proof they require, what peoples' experiences with them are, etc. I once sold an old radio on craigslist to a guy in another city, but he sent me a bank transfer with paypal, and as far as I know had to rely entirely on my honesty.
posted by alexei at 9:36 PM on November 26, 2008

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