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Craigslist Scams…

:: Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

I’ll start off by saying that I use Craigslist quite a bit and truly believe that it is a very useful resource for both buying and selling of goods online. However, there are people in this world who choose to use the site for the reason of illegal personal gain… yes people, we’re talking about scam artists!

Just recently, I posted an underwater camera system for sale on Craigslist and I was truly taken in by the results. For every good response to the ad, I received at least ten emails from scammers who wanted me to ship the camera system overseas to a third party; Most often stating they would include a large sum of additional payment for the shipping and all of them requested to pay via Paypal.

Maybe you’ve heard of this scam before… these people target Craigslist sellers by using Paypal to initiate payment and then canceling (or disputing) the payment once the item has been shipped off to West Africa. My understanding is that the scammers have people working for them in the USPS office’s in Nigeria and they make sure that the packages don’t get returned to the sender when the deal falls through! This is a warning to anyone who uses Craigslist to sell items! It seems that the scammers mostly target the ad’s for expensive electronics (laptops, cameras, cellphones, etc.)

NOTE: Be advised that scammers most often use fictitious names for their email correspondence, but they have also been known to use real individuals names, like yours and mine, they have stolen from the Web. For this reason, the names and email addresses contained in this article do NOT represent real law abiding individuals!

Here are a few examples of actual emails I’ve received from scammers:

From: kelly malone  [kellymalone7@gmail.com]
Date: September 20, 2009 02:20:55 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Underwater Photography Equipment!!*** $1500 (Arlington, Va.)

Thanks for your message..I will like to buy your item and pay you through PayPal,do send me your PayPal account email address for the instant payment and also i will be adding 150$ for the shipping fee through Usps Global Express Mail Service to my daughter in Oversea..Do get back to me as soon as you can so i can proceed with the instant payment….if you a new to PayPal,you can easily log on to http://www.paypal.com/us and set up an account with them with either your Bank account Information or your Credit/Debit Card details and its simple and easier,just in few secs;you get your account activated.PayPal is very secure and reliable..I’ll be hoping and looking forward to have a remarkable reply from you.

Thank you and God Bless you

Absolutely Classic!

Here’s the latest one… note the typos and poor grammar, not to mention that the first three questions she asks were clearly answered in the Craigslist posting!

From: Lesley Williams  [lesleywon01@gmail.com]
Date: September 22, 2009 02:10:34 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Underwater Photography Equipment!!!*** $1500 (Arlington, Va.)

Have 4 questions for this item,
(1)What is the condition?
(2) What is the original price of this item?
(3)Can you accept PayPal has the mode of payment?
(4)You will handle the shipping for me and i will be paying you $170.00USD via USPS(EMS GLOBAL EXPRESS MAIL) To Nigeria? cos i want to this for my pastor son as gift…?
Please reply as soon as possible

Thanks

And here is another classic example of the Nigerian scammer that I received right after this posting!

From: carl gate  [gatecarl262@gmail.com]
Date: October 2, 2009 01:36:22 AM EDT
Subject: Underwater Photography Equipment!!*** $1500 (Arlington, Va.)

Hello seller

Thanks for the quick response i will like to purchase your item for my wife,and i will be adding $200 for the shipping cost to my wife in overseas,I will be paying you through via PayPal so kindly get back to me with your paypal email address so that i can made an instant payment into your account now,So if you don’t have a paypal account you can get one at www.paypal.com it is easy and save and it’s free also your reply will be appreciated by me get back asap.

And i will like if you can mail the item out through United State Postal Service express mail okay.

Regards

One thing that I really hate, but helps me identify the scammers is that they don’t bother to read the entire Craigslist ad. In my Craigslist posting for this item it clearly states:

(Cash / Local Buyers Only Please! I will not ship these items overseas.)

Another annoying thing is that the scammers normally start by writing a simple email like – “Is the item still for sale?” After you respond to them once or twice, they then state that they are actually purchasing the item for their brother / sister / daughter / nephew / boss, and that they would like you to mail it to an address in Nigeria… hence the name ‘Nigerian Scammer’! Listen, if you think it’s a scam… it probably is!!

Another way to weed out the scams is to look for emails exhibiting poor grammar and spelling. I’ve also started to ignore any emails that are disrespectful in nature or that are just plain ridiculous… like someone who wants ME to drive (or fly) half way across the country just so they can check out the item in person. Their argument – “Oh, well I’ve been burned on here before…!”

People should try to be more original… like the guy from Florida, who told me he would drive up and pay me cash for the camera system, but he didn’t own a car and had no bank account, so he couldn’t even setup a Paypal account. Even harder to believe… this guy couldn’t fathom the idea, that it would cost me more for a round trip plane ticket to Florida than I was selling the camera for in the first place!

Now days, I just delete the responses when they’re even a little bit on the strange side. I’m sure that I ignore or delete some legitimate responses to my posts, but some times it’s really hard to tell who’s on the up-n-up.

I’ll share some more examples of emails as the new batch comes in (yes, the item is still for sale!)

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