Am I getting scammed via craigslist?
August 17, 2010 8:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm not sure if I'm being ripped off on craigslist with this one....he says he'll pay me with paypal.

I live in Chicago and this guy in California wants to buy the bike I put up on Craigslist. He says that I can just take it to a bike shop and they'll pack it up and ship it for me. He says he'll pay for shipping and do it all through paypal.

I've never heard of bike shops doing that. Is this some sort of weird scam?
posted by allthewhile to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think the first rule of Craigslist is to only deal in person, face to face. While it may be true that you can get a bike shop to box up your bike and arrange to have it shipped from their store, it may also be true that this guy has no intention of paying you and you'll have sent your bike across the country and end up not getting paid.
posted by devinemissk at 8:27 PM on August 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

Why doesn't this guy just use CL in California? Seems odd to me. Don't do this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:31 PM on August 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Get the money first.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:32 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

devinemissk has the right of it. This guy may be totally legitimate, but you shouldn't take the chance at all. Be patient, someone who can meet you and pay in cash will eventually turn up.
posted by jnrussell at 8:32 PM on August 17, 2010

Yes. Almost 100% certainly. Bike, boat, guitar... doesn't matter, someone's found a way to rip people off via Craigslist.

If you take his email text and put it into google I bet you will come up with multiple similar examples.
posted by micawber at 8:32 PM on August 17, 2010

Looks like a scam.
posted by corey flood at 8:33 PM on August 17, 2010

you should probably be careful there. even if he does pay you in advance via paypal, he could retract the money later on (not too clear on the mechanism, but someone i know who uses paypal to run a hostel has told me about people doing this.)
posted by swimmingly at 8:33 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you think you might be being ripped off on Craigslist, generally, you are being ripped off. Is this some kind of incredibly rare and valuable bike? If not, why is he buying a bike from you instead of buying one in California, which would be far more practical for him?
posted by phoenixy at 8:33 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I use a local bike shop to ship my bike at least twice a year. I typically find a local shop where I am traveling and have my shop send it to them. Then the destination shop puts the pedals back on, handlebars, and generally squares it away before I am off and riding. My friends and I do this whenever we travel to a destination that we plan on riding at. I am sometimes charged a $20 fee by the destination shop for putting it together. ON the return we just reverse the process. Much better than bringing on plane or renting (if you are riding long distances and want to be comfortable). You can buy a hard travel case too, but I have never taken that step.

I know nothing about Craig's List scams.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:35 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

only cash, only upfront. walk away from anything that seems sketchy.

people who follow these rules don't get burned on craigslist.
posted by nadawi at 8:36 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Well, this transaction is fine, as long as you have the money in your hand before you ship the bike. Collect money first, ask questions later.
posted by jrockway at 8:38 PM on August 17, 2010

Dude, follow all of paypal's rules:
1. send to the confirmed/verified address and NOWHERE else.
2. get tracking and signature confirmation.

and yeah...bikeshops regularly do that.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:39 PM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have talked to him on the phone, so I do have his phone number.

Here's the bike.
posted by allthewhile at 8:40 PM on August 17, 2010

Taking a bike to a shop to have it packed is actually completely normal -- my roommate did the same thing when he moved from Albuquerque to Brooklyn.

If you have his number, have talked to him on the phone and get the money through paypal and into your bank account BEFORE you ship the bike, this seems pretty legit to me.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:42 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Okay, so it is a rare bike.

I'd keep it on CL for another few weeks to see if you have a local person interested.

Shipping it is a lot more work and hassle for you. Plus it is entirely possible that he's scamming you.
posted by k8t at 8:45 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice. Thanks everyone.
posted by allthewhile at 8:51 PM on August 17, 2010

I've bought, and sold items on craigslist paying (and receiving payment) via paypal. Don't ever take a check or money order, but I've had excellant experience with paypal protecting me both as a buyer, and a seller.

As a seller: retain all receipts, as well as a receipt to prove that you mailed the item. Send a copy of these to the buyer. If they make a claim with paypal, use these as evidence that you did indeed mail the item. I would insist on mailing it insured, if I were you- that way they must sign for it. I have had a buyer file a claim against me with paypal, and I provided evidence that the claim was false, and paypal sided with me.

As a buyer: ask for receipts. Get detailed information about the seller, if possible. If they seem shady about sharing it, don't move forward with the transaction. Don't give them huge amounts of time if they start stalling after you have paid. If they stop communicating, or stall too long, file a claim with paypal. I have filed one claim with paypal for nonreceipt of the (craigslist) item, and received my money back after about three weeks.

Still, many have had very bad experience with paypal, so obviously YMMV. Use your common sense when receiving these sorts of offers. If people could buy your bike easily, or at the same price in California, why is this guy getting it shipped? Each time I've bought or sold, it was an item that was rare or unavailable locally (e.g. an antique chair), or at an extremely good price.
posted by arnicae at 9:17 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

And make sure that as soon as you get the money in PayPal, transfer it to your bank and get it out of PayPal. Sometimes the sender can fight for it back.
posted by k8t at 9:22 PM on August 17, 2010

I've bought things remotely over Craigslist and shipped money over Paypal when I didn't have enough cash in my checking account or preferred to use a credit card to pay. I've also had my bike shipped across the country with the help of a bike shop – it cost less than $40 if I recall correctly; they took it apart, packaged it (very nicely) and shipped it to my door.
posted by halogen at 9:24 PM on August 17, 2010

I've done this, both buying and selling, and it worked fine. Just make sure you have the money first, or send the bike COD through UPS. There is a fee to send it COD, but make the buyer pay it.
posted by infodiva at 9:27 PM on August 17, 2010

To be honest, this does not smell like a scam to me. However, since there is a chance it is, why take the risk?
posted by danb at 9:53 PM on August 17, 2010

It could be a stolen paypal account, so only ship to the confirmed address. They could try to say they never received the bike, so get a tracking number and hold onto it. I doubt its a scam though, my guess is someone wants it for burning man. If their name and number matches up on I would send it. Good luck.
posted by mewmewmew at 10:00 PM on August 17, 2010

Why doesn't this guy just use CL in California?

Probably because he can't find this particular bike (brand/model/size/color) on his local CL? I agree that selling local is preferable and that Craigslist sellers should always remain vigilant for scammers (who are usually pretty easy to spot, no?), but there's no need for hysteria, nor for the categorical presumption that all non-local offers to purchase non-fungible items via Paypal (as opposed to more shady methods) are bogus. Some out-of-area inquiries are perfectly legit--I'm a Chicagoan who recently bought a vintage bicycle from an east coast CL'er--and a phone conversation with (and 5 minutes of Google searching on?) the prospective buyer might satisfy your concerns.
posted by applemeat at 10:27 PM on August 17, 2010

Sounds legit to me. This is a rare bike not available in every city. I've been the buyer in a similar scenario.

The three MUSTS:
1. Ship only to the address provided by PayPal.
2. Require a direct signature upon delivery.
3. Insure the package.

It is quite common to ship bikes this way. Just be sure you know the exact dimensions of the bike box before you get a shipping quote; you may be charged a significant rate for dimensional weight.
posted by reeddavid at 10:49 PM on August 17, 2010

Insurance is essential. It's a common PayPal scam to report an item "damaged", get a full refund, and then ship the item back with half the parts missing.
posted by helios at 4:21 AM on August 18, 2010

I called and asked PayPal if they have an escrow account for such transactions. They said that If you send your money through PayPal and the deal goes sour, you can get your money back. call PayPal and ask them.
posted by UltraD at 7:21 AM on August 18, 2010

Remember that Paypal may charge you a percentage fee on the transaction depending on how much it is and what kind of account you have. The one time I dealt with someone on Craigslist that paid with Paypal (for a face-to-face deal) we determined what the Paypal fee would be and negotiated to split it (in our case it was something like $40 on a $1000 transaction for a surfboard, but it was awhile ago so I don't remember specifically). Just make sure you're aware of the fee and who's paying for it.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 9:06 AM on August 18, 2010

Try to avoid PayPal if at all possible. I myself have been burned, and there have been many other AskMe issues regarding PayPal. The most common is the seller retracting payment, cleaning out or removing the checking/credit card account tied to the paypal account, and leaving you with nothing.

PayPal is famously and shamelessly unhelpful to legitimate sellers who have been ripped off. Taking PayPal as a form of payment is about as secure as an IOU.
posted by xedrik at 1:24 PM on August 18, 2010

« Older Help me find something new to do with my time   |   Zombiefilter: What is up with this Flemish... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.