craigslist scam red flags: The story behind the craigslist con

craigslist scamA few months ago I posted about two craigslist scam attempts from adds I listed (go HERE to read). I recently had a few more craigslist scam attempts and noticed a pattern between the different methods to con me. Here are a few Red Flags for scams on craigslist or other merchant websites.

Flag 1: Want your item right away

I noticed the scammers never ask any REAL questions about what’s for sale. For example, I recently listed a glass table and received “I’ll take it, where do I send the check” request regardless of size, weight, looks, etc. Same thing happened when I listed a car. Real buyers ask questions before offering payment.

Flag 2: Location location location?

It seems like con artists believe people don’t have knowledge about the world. I had one guy claim he lived in Canada yet sent me a Utah credit union money order post marked from Spain. Uh huh … you were on holiday in Spain using money orders from a Utal account you never closed due to great service? The con artist ignored any questions and kept insisting I cash the money order. I recently had one scammer ship me a check without paying the postage. What a cheap con #$#@#$#@! At least have the decency to pay for the shipping so I can see the fake check! Come on!

Flag 3: Overpay for goods

The con is always about overpaying for goods and banking on the victim paying the difference. For larger items such as a car, the extra money is for “shipping”. For smaller items such as a table, the extra payment “was a return” which I’m suppose to wire the difference. I’ve noticed the scammers tend to send extra funds without initial notification and later justify things with an excuse to wire money. The most recent one was insane. I listed a table for $800 and received a check for $4,500! Everything looked pretty real minus they forgot the water mark. They get a B-

Flag 4: Engrish … I mean English

Most craigslist con artists seem to use language converting software to write emails. First sign is most emails are one or two long paragraphs, which makes sense if you copy and paste into a language converting software. Second flag is spelling and grammatical structure is off, which again is a sign of the use of language converting software. Scammers also love throwing in things like “god bless you” and capitalizing key phrases such as CASHIERS CHECK and MONEY TRANSFER.

Flag 5: Western Union … the fastest way to steal money

Craigslist con artist always ask to wire money though western union (or similar service). The game is having a fake check or money order look real enough to clear in a bank for a few weeks. This gives the con artist enough time to fool the victim into believing the payment is legit so they wire back funds before things bounce. One easy way to confirm things is to call the bank that issued the check to verify its authenticity. If you mention Western Union is involved to the teller, they usually will laugh and say its fake before running a trace in their system.


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