I think this a craigslist scam but what can I do to escape it?
June 6, 2021 5:22 PM   Subscribe

After searching other AskMe questions this sounds very similar to what's happening to me. I think I've fallen into the trap and want to know what, if anything, I can do since I've given the "buyer" personal information including my address.

I'm selling a motorcycle on craigslist with a bunch of extra equipment. I posted the ad Friday night and received a response Saturday morning. The response was short and lacking some capitalization:

I saw your ad. I want to pick it up. why are you selling it? don't reply from cl mail. my mail address is godsavethecheeses@gmail.com

I responded that I was free all day and that they could come by anytime.

Today I got an email from a completely different gmail address with totally different grammar:


Thank you so much for your response, I've been working really long weeks at work so I won't be able to meet with you before purchase, but am ok with the price and condition as shown on the advert, I'll proceed in issuing a check to you and when you receive the payment and it clears, I will make arrangement for pickup. So get back to me with the details below asap.

Full name :
Physical Address (Only,not po box):
City, State, Zip:
Your cell Phone Number:
Deal Price:

As soon as this is provided, payment will be overnight to you through UPS next day delivery and I will let you know the tracking number of the package. I will also add an additional $50 for keeping other buyers off till my check gets to you, also please delete the posting or mark as sold.

Thanks and I hope we handle this in good faith while waiting to hearing from you

I responded with all the information including my physical address where the bike is parked outside. I also said "This sounds vaguely scammy (or very efficient!) but I’ll take it in good faith as well."

After thinking about it for about half an hour I got a little suspicious so I went out and put on the disc lock. So, the steering is locked unless there's a key in the ignition, the bike has no battery and the front wheel is locked with basically this lock. The front wheel won't turn without breaking that Kryptonite lock. Someone could still lift the (463 pound) bike into a truck but would have a struggle getting it to roll.

After reading brittanyq's question I went to this linked page posted in the thread about how to avoid cashier's check fraud.

I then sent another email to "the buyer" saying this:

I found some precautions online that I plan to follow to make sure this isn’t a scam:

the link

"If you want to find out whether a check is genuine, call or visit the bank on which the check is written. That bank will be in a better position to tell you whether the check is one they issued and is genuine.”

I look forward to receiving your check.

I think I'm going to find every other lock thing I can in my house and put it through the wheels of the bike because they know where it's parked.

Should I be worried about them stealing the bike, or were they only interested in the money transaction?
posted by bendy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: They aren’t even in the same country as you are. They strictly want the money that will come their way when you refund them an “overpayment” before the check clears. I wouldn’t worry. Your address is public record anyway. Just cease all contact. You revealed you were on to their scam and that’s the last you will hear from them.
posted by spitbull at 5:28 PM on June 6, 2021 [26 favorites]

Response by poster: I googled the name from the second gmail account and could only find people in the UK, so that's good to hear.
posted by bendy at 5:30 PM on June 6, 2021

Best answer: This is definitely a scam--don't try to do it with "precautions," just don't do it. Write back to the scammer and say you changed your mind and only take cash. You will never hear from them again. Even if the check initially "clears," a couple days later your bank will realize it is fake and you will be on the hook for it--or worse. (I once had a client who was ARRESTED after the client was a victim of a check cashing scam, after the bank reported the fake check client deposited at a bank to the police. Yes, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss it after getting all the supporting documentation, but not before she spent several days in jail.) You seem to understand this is a scam but if there's any doubt, DON'T DO THIS.

Not a 100% guarantee, but I would be surprised if it is part of the scam for them to actually come pick up the motorcycle. Especially if you call off the deal first, I'd be surprised if they then show up to steal the bike. This is the kind of thing they want to do anonymously, and when they realize you didn't fall for it, that will probably be it.
posted by Squalor Victoria at 5:36 PM on June 6, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: They just want to send you a fake check. They won’t show up. You don’t need to worry. I sell on Craigslist and I have a couple inches of fake checks that I’ve collected over the years. No worries.
posted by Slinga at 5:42 PM on June 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Don’t even write back. Ignore any further contacts.

Used cars and motorcycles are “we meet in person at your bank and you hand me cash, I hand you the title.” Never sell remotely and never take any sort of check.

Ever. An interbank transfer via Zelle (etc.) would satisfy me too, after I watched it clear into my account a few minutes later. But not from a person who wasn’t eagerly standing in front of me hoping to take the vehicle way with them that day.
posted by spitbull at 5:44 PM on June 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Used cars and motorcycles are “we meet in person at your bank and you hand me cash, I hand you the title.” Never sell remotely and never take any sort of check.

It's "we then go to the DMV and transfer the title." I know someone whose car was used in a robbery after he sold it. The title had never been changed, so the police came to him. Fortunately, they believed him, but it's not something you want to mess with.
posted by FencingGal at 5:50 PM on June 6, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Oh wow so glad I just read this!

Last weekend I received an email about a craigslist item with the exact same text, but different email address. Alas, I was busy on the day I received it, procrastinated about replying, started worrying I'd left it too late, began feeling guilty whenever I saw the email in my inbox, then eventually deleted it so I would stop feeling (quite so) bad about messing up.

Now I feel vindicated! I wasn't just being disorganized -- I saved myself from a scam!

posted by EllaEm at 5:56 PM on June 6, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: In addition the off grammar, notice that none of their messages actually say what they are buying. That way they can use the same message no matter what ad they are responding to.
posted by soelo at 6:48 PM on June 6, 2021 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Just block and ignore. They are not even in the same country, probably Africa or Southeast Asia where they have internet but not the sophistication.

What happened is the scammer screwed up and replied with the wrong account. They are running a dozen different identities at the same time, hoping one of them will snag a victim. AND they work in groups as each specialize in a particular genre of scam.
posted by kschang at 11:02 PM on June 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone! I ❤️ craigslist! I have less faith in humanity than I did yesterday!

Does anyone want to buy a 2000 Nighthawk CB750
posted by bendy at 11:13 PM on June 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Follow-up: I finally sold the bike yesterday to the first person who actually showed up to see it during the month-plus it had been for sale!
posted by bendy at 8:30 PM on July 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

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