Craig's List advice
August 11, 2010 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Craig's list help, please.

Son left for overseas. Wife wants to sell his guitar. Has never used Craig's list and worries about sickoes. Soon after listing, got this e-mail. Wants to know if this is ok or unusual or something to be suspicious about.

I really appreciate your response to my email. I want you to consider
it sold, pls do withdraw the advert from CL to avoid disturbance,
anyways I don't have time to come over to take a look because of my
Business but you don't need to bother yourself with the shipment, I'll
take care of that by engaging the services of a mover, hence I'll be
sending a bank certified check and it will be delivered to you via
United Parcel Service (UPS), so I'll need you to provide me with the
following information to facilitate the mailing of the check.

Full name on the check.
Full Physical address to post the check
City, State and Zip Code
Home & Cell Phone to contact you.

Note that the payment will be shipped to your address via UPS NEXT DAY
AIR SERVICE and I will like you to know that you will not be
responsible for shipping i will have my mover to come over as soon as
you have cashed the check
N.B UPS does not deliver to a P.O box addresses.Thanks
posted by Postroad to Shopping (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Scam. Ignore it.
posted by jon1270 at 7:14 AM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]

Sounds scammy. The whole point of Craigslist is to deal with local people, and that you can do transactions in person.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Scam. Do not respond. Read this.
posted by applemeat at 7:15 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep. Craigslist warns you never to deal with a buyer or seller that you can't meet face to face, and this is exactly why. The check will be fake.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 7:16 AM on August 11, 2010

Only deal locally on craigslist. That way you won't get scammed.

I've never run into a problem with "sickos", though. Don't be too afraid to let a person come by and check out the axe before they purchase it. Just go on a first-come, first-served basis.
posted by King Bee at 7:16 AM on August 11, 2010

Please take a look at this list of common Craigslist scams. Your ad should specify that you will only deal with local buyers and will only accept cash. Even then, you'll get emails similar to these; ignore them.
posted by amarynth at 7:17 AM on August 11, 2010

Note that there's no specific mention of the product -- this is probably an automatically-generated message fishing for information. I've gotten these; sometimes they even include a verbatim mention of the item/subject line from the Craigslist posting.

Look for original text that's clearly about the item itself.
posted by amtho at 7:17 AM on August 11, 2010

This is not a sicko, but is definitely a scammer.
THis person will send you/your wife a check. The chieck will "accidentally" be for more money than requested. They will request that you send them the balance. You do so, then find that it was a bad check. You are now on the hook for the money you sent to them, plus any charges from your bank for the bad check.
Ignore this.
If you are worried about unsavory people coming to your house to pick up the guitar, meet them in a public place, instead. A coffee shop with outdoor seating would be a good place to meet, the buyer can try out the guitar there. Most people who are looking for things on craigslist will be fine with this, and some may expect it.
posted by Adridne at 7:18 AM on August 11, 2010

Scam. Y'all can request a specific subject line to be used by interested parties who are not scammers and that'll help sort replies.

posted by batmonkey at 7:18 AM on August 11, 2010

Just so you know, almost every Craigslist ad will bring in junk like this. You have to ignore them as annoyances that are part of the cost of using a free classified ad service. Deal only with local buyers who pay in cash, and the biggest hassle you'll face is buyers not showing up when they say they will.
posted by jon1270 at 7:20 AM on August 11, 2010

Real replies to a craigslist ad sound like this:

"Hi, I'm interested in your guitar. Can I come see it?"

Fake replies to a craigslist ad include some or all of the following:

-"I like your item and want to buy. How much is it?" (not naming item specifically, and even if you have listed a price)
-Anything about sending a check or money order
-Anything including a random link
posted by phunniemee at 7:21 AM on August 11, 2010

Not only will the check bounce after it's been at the bank several days, but he might "accidentally" overpay by a few hundred dollars and will ask you to send the difference, and you'll be out that money plus the guitar. Speaking as a business owner I will say that when someone tries to come up with complicated baloney like that to make a purchase, you can pretty much chalk it up as a scam until you research the proposition thoroughly (as you're doing, fortunately).
posted by crapmatic at 7:22 AM on August 11, 2010

I want you to consider
it sold, pls do withdraw the advert from CL to avoid disturbance

Even if the message were genuine, why would you want to deal with someone who has such a domineering attitude?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:23 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here are my Craigslist Rules:

(1) Only accept cash payments, on pick-up or delivery.

OK, it's only one rule, but it's the best one. Anyone offering to write a check or send a courier is trying to scam you.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also ignore phishy responses like this: "is this still available?"
They're hoping you respond so they can get your email addy.
I put this sentence in my ad if i'm selling something: "pls don't send me a response asking if it's still available; I will delete this ad when sold"
posted by bunny hugger at 7:27 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ways to identify common scams:

English that is stilted and appears to not be written by a native speaker, including non-Americanisms like "advert" instead of "ad," formal words like "hence," and capitalization where it doesn't belong.

Explanations of common abbreviations like "United Parcel Service (UPS)."

Requirement of an unusual payment form for a small item, usually cashier's checks or, more typically, Western Union.

No mention of the product you're selling at all. This message could apply to anything.

Detailed, complicated instructions for you to follow. You're the seller, you make the rules.

Reference to an email you "responded" to when you've done no such thing. This message was the initiator and you have had no prior contact with the sender.

Usually the message will be overly polite and formal, with many instances of words like "kindly," "please," "thank you very much" and "God bless." This one, on the other hand, is very to-the-point but it fits the formula closely enough in other ways that I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot-pole.

The rule of thumb with scam responses on Craigslist is to ignore them completely. Don't send a response at all, not even a "thanks but no thanks."
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

By way of example, here's a rather convincing one I received when I was trying to sell a fridge:
Am serious about buying from you, so i want you to take off the Ads from Craigslist.I live in South Dakota ,i know you will be surprise that am looking outside.Out here i couldn't find good ones cos they live and old school life here ,let me say it's a laid back place.I am here due to my work ,i should have bring the one that am using in New york but i thought i will find a better one thats why i sold it.I will mail you a check as my mode of payment ,and as soon as you cash it i will get movers to come move it from your door down to mine.Get me your full name and address with phone number so as to send the check out..I hope doing business with you.

Note the similarities between this one and the one your wife received? I suppose it must be successful sometimes.
posted by muddgirl at 7:32 AM on August 11, 2010

Also, if you're worried about "sickos," there's no requirement that you or your wife invite respondents into your home. Set up a meeting in a public place like a park or mall, for your own safety and the respondents'.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:32 AM on August 11, 2010

I note now that it was your daughter-in-law, not your wife. Apologies!
posted by muddgirl at 7:32 AM on August 11, 2010

Ditto what muddgirl said, I assumed it was your wife.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:38 AM on August 11, 2010

My husband has sold guitars on Craiglist with no problems. He specifies cash only, too.

Your son should write a very detailed description of the guitar for the listing -- that will weed out the time-wasters and stop people asking lots of questions that will hold up the process.

Because it's a "serious" item rather than a couch or an old blender, you shouldn't have to deal with too many flakes who cancel on you.
posted by vickyverky at 7:38 AM on August 11, 2010

I agree with the responses that claim this to be a scam. I just want to restate that the trick to this scam working is that banks will tell a you that a check has 'cleared' and it would seem that everything has checked out okay. This is how people are taken in. When a bank says a check has cleared it in no way means the money is now safely yours and had been withdrawn from the payees account. The bank will not learn that the check is fraudulent for days after the victim has sent on the 'remainder' of the check to the scammer and the victim will be liable to provide this amount out of their own account. People often seem to think they are outwitting a scammer by waiting for the check to clear.
posted by InkaLomax at 8:30 AM on August 11, 2010

This is a scam. Even my brother almost fell for one, before he asked me about it.

Cash only, meet in person. Even money orders are suspect, no matter what they tell you.
posted by micawber at 8:33 AM on August 11, 2010

If it's any consolation, we sell and buy stuff locally (upstate NY) via CL all the time and have never encountered a "sicko." That said, any non-local reply, or reply that involves over-complicated arrangements like this, I would just ignore.
posted by aught at 8:35 AM on August 11, 2010

Everyone above has it covered re: this scam. If it helps, here's what I specify in my CL ads: cash only, local pick-up only, and whoever gets to me first and puts money in my hand gets the item: no holds and definitely no removing the ad until it's sold. People responding to ads are notoriously flaky, so even if someone "absolutely commits" to buying it, I don't hold it for them or count my chickens till cash has exchanged hands. That being said, I've only had positive experiences selling on CL and everyone I've met in person has been really genuine and nice. Sold a kitchen cart on there just yesterday, in fact!
posted by Bella Sebastian at 8:50 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

That's a classic scam. The check won't be good. When I sell on CL I specify that the item is for pickup only and payment is cash only. I've never had a problem with that method.
posted by thatone at 11:46 AM on August 11, 2010

A good rule of thumb for craigslist is that if it raises an eyebrow in any way, if it seems even 1% fishy, it is a scam guaranteed. Deal with real people locally, and use cash.
posted by malapropist at 2:12 PM on August 11, 2010

Two emails i received from a friend who had listed their laptop.

From the 1st person

I have went through your add on craigslist and will like to make some

inquiry on it and to know if still available.
Then replied from another address with another name

Greatful for the reply and for this reason, I will be asking some
questions regarding the item Hope its in good and working condition?
because i will not be able to come down for check up of the item due
to my working shedule in Tenesse.And i will want this item sent to my
Dad in other country as a present.
I'm willing to offer you $840 with the mailing via USPS Express
mail intl Post Office ....And the payment will be via paypal only for
security reason .
I will need you to forward me the pics of the item to take a look and
prove of ownership.
Hoping to receive your reply in a shortwhile


Finally another attempt

Hello there

Am serious in buying this item for my son schooling abroad in Nigeria and i will be paying you through my paypal account and i will include $150 to cover the shipping cost so i want you to remove the ad from the post and get back to me your PayPal account email with your contact information once i make the payment i will inform you and send the shipping address.

i will be looking forward to have your paypal email address so i can pay you up now,

posted by iNfo.Pump at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2010

Complete scam. I've sold many guitars on CL and this is a classic example of a scam.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:14 PM on August 14, 2010

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