Craigslist offer: Scam? Legit?
August 13, 2008 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Craigslist offer to buy an item I'm selling: Scam? Legit? Am I overreacting?

A few days ago, I posted a wedding dress in the classified section of Craigslist. Someone, we'll call him Rick, replied and asked if the dress was still available. I replied, saying that yes, it was, and to let me know if he had any other questions. I just got an email from him, which says:

I'm glad it's still available. I'm presently on vacation but I will ask my assistant to prepare and mail your payment. And I am sure you will receive it in the next 3 - 6 business days. I will add $10 extra for you to keep it in my favour and also for the delay. I will pay you with Money Order. If this is acceptable by you, Send me your info i.e your full name and address for the payment and also a contact number. Arrangement for pick-up will be after you must have received and cashed the Money Order.
Awaiting your info

...Something about this tugs at my spider sense. It seems off, somehow (perhaps the vacation + assistant + money order + delayed pickup + offering extra money on top of asking price?). I have googled money order + scam + craigslist a few different ways, and all that comes up as a definite scam is when someone offers to buy something with a money order in the amount over what the item costs, then asks the seller to give them back the extra. I see how this would be a scam and wouldn't fall for something like that - however, this person isn't asking me to return any money. But do people really offer money on top of what you asked? It seems too good to be true... and while I know that when that's the case, it usually is, I can't figure out what the angle could be here. Should I go forward with this transaction?
posted by alpha_betty to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Counterfeit money order. I'm 95% sure he expects you to ship items, then a week later your bank puts you on the hook for the money order after it bounces. You should accept cash only. If you do the money order, hold the merchandise at least a week to make sure there's not a bounce.

On Craigslist, ANYTHING that sounds like a special circumstance regarding the payment always sets off a red flag for me.
posted by crapmatic at 4:04 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can't pinpoint the exact scam, but run a mile from this.

The insistence on knowing your full name and address AND phone number and him coming to pick it up is just creepy.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Tell him you don't want a money order. Counteroffer with this: you'll meet the assistant in a public place, in the next day or two, and exchange cash for dress. If he's not into that, walk away.
posted by box at 4:09 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

its probably a scam.

also, search "ebay scam money order"
posted by ouchitburns at 4:09 PM on August 13, 2008

Scammy. Combination of iffy english, Money Order, extra $10 (whu?) and the assistant makes it zero% likely to be the real deal.
posted by jessamyn at 4:13 PM on August 13, 2008

Total scam. Always do this stuff in person with cash.
posted by Craig at 4:17 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you keep the dress, you aren't out a single thing, but if you try to sell it and it is a scam, then you are going to go through a lot of hassles, so in general, it makes sense to default to "no" to any seller that raises your hackles. With something like this, better safe than sorry.

Plus: even if the offer IS legit, then it still sounds like its too much of a pain in the ass to deal with. Why jump through all those hoops? There has to be a more legit and painless sale out there.
posted by Kiablokirk at 4:18 PM on August 13, 2008

Nope, don't accept money orders for payment via Craigslist. Cash.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:19 PM on August 13, 2008

Agree with Jessamyn (and everybody else, but I like her word): scammy.

You'll get other, normal offers. Throw Rick's to the dogs.
posted by Beardman at 4:20 PM on August 13, 2008

I sell a lot of misc stuff on craigslist and facebook. Try listing 10 items and you'll get 3 of these overnight from different people, but very similarly worded. How many people have assistants buying crappy used laptops (what I sometimes sell) or a $15 tv?
posted by thilmony at 4:37 PM on August 13, 2008

Here's one I got the other day, which we definitely ignored. Very similar, very creepy!

"Hello I really appreciate your response to my email.I want you toconsider
it sold, pls do withdraw the advert from craigslist toavoid
disturbance.I want you to know that i will be paying via bankcertified
check .I will like you to provide me with the following.information to
facilitate the mailing of the check to you .
1.....Full name to write on the check
2.....Full Physical address to post the check
3.....City, State and Zip Code
4.....Home & Cell Phone to contact you
*** Note that the payment will be shiped to your address via UPS NEXT
DAYSERVICE and I will like you to know that you will not be
responsiblefor shipping i will have my mover come over as soon as you
have cashedthe check** Thanks"
posted by belau at 5:03 PM on August 13, 2008

A friend of mine got a similar offer (price asked and then some, paid as money order) for their van. After they insisted that the buyer actually come in person to test drive the stinky van (it smelled like tuna, and they wanted to make sure the seller knew what they were getting into), they kept getting the same exact vague reply from the buyer and realized it was a scam.
posted by abirae at 5:07 PM on August 13, 2008

To answer your question about offering extra $, I've done this. I offered a guy double on a neat chair he was selling for way too cheap, and he chose my email out of several. Not sure if this is what I would do if I were the one selling something (usually first email wins), but I was happy to get the chair.

A side suggestion to avoid trouble, even when you sell to a legitimate buyer: for anything I sell on craigslist, I print out my ad, write "sold to (name) , $___ cash received on (date). Final sale - as is". Craigslist can be great, but it can also be a pain.
posted by belau at 5:12 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay, you've convinced me. Nothing to gain there, and I'll take other avenues if no one else bites on CL. Thanks, everyone.
posted by alpha_betty at 5:22 PM on August 13, 2008

If you're not in a rush to sell, what on earth do you have to lose here? You don't send it until you receive payment - i.e. after the actual cash from the money order is in your hands. I've had some weird arrangements with buyers and it's always been the same. *Of course you can have XXXX, show me the money and when you do, it's yours.* It's not like he's asking you to send it to him COD.
posted by watercarrier at 5:22 PM on August 13, 2008

money order? scam!

I would walk away from this offer and if nothing else comes up on craigslist put the dress on ebay instead.
posted by krautland at 5:27 PM on August 13, 2008

People with personal assistants don't shop craigslist.

It's a pretty well known scam - and a nasty one that doesn't just rip you off but leaves you liable for the bank charges. Check the links on craigslist and on the confirmation emails for info about the variety of scams people pull on CL.
posted by loquacious at 6:03 PM on August 13, 2008

For awhile I used to respond to these guys, "sure send me the money" and often they don't even follow through with the fake money order. dumb dumb dumb. I guess if they were smart they wouldn't be doing this scam.
posted by thilmony at 6:04 PM on August 13, 2008

...I will ask my assistant [SCAM SCAM SCAM] ... I will add $10 extra [SCAM SCAM SCAM] ... I will pay you with Money Order. [SCAM SCAM SCAM]
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:18 PM on August 13, 2008

I used to work in a small local bowling alley in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden we were getting bombarded with calls from people in foreign countries wanting to buy bulk quantities of bowling balls from us. We found the situation laughably implausible, which is why we went on to research what was going on. Besides the fact that it made no economic sense to ship 25 bowling balls to Nigeria, our, "Something doesn't add up" sense was set off, like it was with you. So we researched it a bit...

crapmatic describes how the scam usually works. They'll send you a money order, which the bank will take, as it looks valid. The money's put in your account. You ship the goods, content with making even more than you asked for. But then the processing center realizes that the money order was phony, and the bank takes the money back. You end up back where you started, but without the dress.

And jessamyn put it well. Any of the things about this e-mail that seemed strange, by themselves, might not be a big deal. I've had good luck with money orders in the past (though with buyers with considerable positive feedback), vacations aren't strange, some people have assistants... But all of this strange stuff at once?

If you're not in a rush to sell, what on earth do you have to lose here? You don't send it until you receive payment - i.e. after the actual cash from the money order is in your hands.

That's the problem: bring it to the bank, get your cash. Ship the goods. All good.

And then a week later, the 'originating bank' on the money order (or cashier's check!) gets it and IDs it as a forgery. And they reverse the transaction with your bank, which reverses it with you. And now you, cash in hand, have the money taken out of your bank account. And no dress. I guess you could wait for it to clear the originating bank / processing center / what have you, but even an honest buyer might be put off when you explain that you're going to wait 3 weeks (to be safe) from when the funds clear to ship it.

Tell him you'd love to sell him the dress, but "your assistant" can't ship the dress without cash due to all the money order fraud going around. I'm struggling to come up with a reason he can't come up with the cash. But don't worry, he'll have one.
posted by fogster at 6:24 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

SCAM. They always offer more money, ambigous (they never once mentioned the dress) and it's a money order, almost all CL scams are through money orders. Only deal local.
posted by BrnP84 at 7:27 PM on August 13, 2008

basically anything on craigslist claiming shipping, mail order, and all that other nonsense stuff is a scam. in my experience the most legit responses are usually one liners.
posted by alitorbati at 7:29 PM on August 13, 2008

Yeah, the big neon tipoff is the extra money. No one legit ever offers extra money, but it's a hallmark of the scammer.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:30 PM on August 13, 2008

For everyone who rains contempt upon all the bad, stupid, pathetic scam attempts out there, please remember that they serve a very important auxiliary function: they create marks for the good scams. Good scams rely upon your confidence, and what better way to create confidence than to have a pool people conditioned by checklists of what is, and is not, reliable.

Good scammers are also multi-disciplinary. Anti-scam confidence demands cash only -- what better way to move counterfeit money? Anti-scam confidence demands in-person meetings -- what better way to case your house for robbery? (The list of 32" televisions for sale pretty much doubles as a list of nearly-new-in-box 50" flat panels to steal.) The obsession with Nigerians and bad grammar is also custom built for conmen, who, after all specialize in sounding just right.
posted by MattD at 9:14 PM on August 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

I realize this question is pretty well answered as being a scam, but I'll add in this offer I got just yesterday from "joy mcfadden" for an item:

hi, thanks for the quick response... Am satisfied with the price and
condition of the item. I will like to make an outright purchase of the
item. I am out of town on a business trip, so i will like to proceed
in issuing out a certified check to you and upon the confirmation and
clearance of payment my shipper will come for the pick-up at your
location. So get back to me with your full name, address, zip code and
phone number so that payment can be mail out asap. let me read from
you today. Thanks. Joy
posted by CheshireCat at 10:59 PM on August 13, 2008

I've gotten scam offers like this before and what I do is I keep a separate e-mail account to try and weed them out. If I were in this situation, I'd send him an email saying, yes, I'm glad you're interested in my vintage pair of socks, where are you on vacation? If they respond, then I know for sure it's a scam and I give them a fake address so they can waste some postage.
posted by perpetualstroll at 6:05 AM on August 14, 2008

Dodge it. I usually buy/sell CList items this way: cash, meet me here/there, followed up by a phone call to confirm the item, price, time, and place for the exchange. Anything beyond that I go the other way.
posted by spoons at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

ahhh! this just happened to me as well! another give away was the e-mail obviously a fake e-mail!

here is the e-mail:

Thanks for the prompt response,,i will love to make an instant purchase and i will want you to send me more pictures if you have it, i do not mind adding an extra $50 for you to take the advert down from criag list so that i can be rest assured that am in hand of the item because i want to present it,and i will be paying via certified check which will be an overnight payment and my Mover will be coming for the Pickup when the payment clears.
So i will need you to provide me with the following information to facilitate the mailing of the check.
1.Your full name
2.Your mailing address be it residential or postal
3.Your phone Number

Thanks for your sincerity and unalloyed loyalty.
posted by dityfleur at 3:57 PM on March 20, 2009

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