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Paypal is the vehicle for scams on Craigslist

:: Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 @ 12:52:33 pm

:: Tags: ,

I’d like to state first that I use and rely on Paypal for many different kinds of transactions. Used between people I know (who have existing, stable accounts) and through eBay, it has been a convenient and consistently-useful tool.

However, I just sold two cameras and a Blackberry using Craigslist, and the experience was a bad one. For every solid lead, I received at least ten emails from scammers who wanted me to mail the phone / cameras overseas, often including large sums of additional payment for shipping. All of them offered to pay via Paypal.

I’ve heard of people scamming 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 somewhere. The emails persist even though my Craigslist posts state very clearly:

CASH / LOCAL SALE ONLY.

One annoying thing is that the scammers often start by writing a single email — e.g. “Is the item still for sale?” After a response or three, they then state that they are actually buying it for their brother / aunt / co-worker, and that they are out of town, and that they’d like me to mail it to Nigeria. As a general rule, if there is a complicated story behind the reason for the purchase, it is probably a scam.

I’ve started to ignore those sorts of emails, along with emails exhibiting poor grammar or a total lack of respect. The fragmented OMG / LOL / no-punctuation emails are from the younger generation; I tried responding to one of them, and they guy wanted to come pick up the phone at midnight (with 5 minutes of notice).

Now, I just delete responses when they are even a little bit strange. The sad thing is that some legitimate responses get filtered out, but if it’s hard to tell, I probably won’t want to meet those folks in person, anyway.

If I feel like putting a [sic] after what I’ve just read, I hit delete.

OK, now for the fun part: examples!

From: larry Linda larrylinda5@gmail.com
Date: August 18, 2009 4:58:35 AM PDT
Subject: Re: Blackberry Bold 9000, original box – $270 (SOMA / south beach)

Hello, Nice to here back from you, I don’t have pick up arrangements due to the fact that I’m out of the Country to Athens Greece for a Conference meeting,so you will be shipping the item to my Son in West Africa.I’m buying the item for him as a Gift because he win a scholarship in two days ago and i we be offering you $275 for the item and $100 to cover up the shipping fee down to him at oversea,I will be paying you via PayPal.So kindly get back to me with your Confirmed PayPal e-mail address so that i can transfer the funds into your Account,so you will be shipping the item via the USPS Express Mail Service(EMS) after payment has been done.i will be waiting to here back from you with your paypal account info so that i can send that to paypal online for the instant money transfer.get back to me ASAP…

Classic.

Here’s one with no punctuation. It may be legit, but why take the chance?

From: sammy lankky
Date: August 17, 2009 8:26:24 AM PDT
Subject: Blackberry Bold 9000, original box – $270 (SOMA / south beach)

is this item still available for sale.
if yes kindly get back to me ASAP……

And another, with typos and poor grammar:

From: Manu Dubey
Date: August 17, 2009 7:54:31 AM PDT
Subject: buy phone

hi i am intrested to buy this phone. give me your cell number.

No. I refuse.

From: Allyson Willams allyson_w7@yahoo.com
Date: August 17, 2009 3:31:47 AM PDT
Subject: Blackberry Bold 9000, original box – $270

Hello seller i see your item online i will like to buy it for my brother who as a promotion to NYC i will like to make payment with paypal and i will like to no the item condition and the item total prices.with the shipping cost to him.will can still make the payment via bank to bank transfer.

Bank transfer? No punctuation? No thanks!

From: Clarence King tnooks2@gmail.com
Date: August 7, 2009 8:22:46 PM PDT
Subject: Canon 1Ds Mark III digital SLR body – $4500 (SOMA / south beach)

Is your listed item still available for sale?Got some interest.

From: Clarence King mysteppingstone@gmail.com
Date: August 8, 2009 8:38:36 AM PDT
Subject: Re: Canon 1Ds Mark III digital SLR body – $4500 (SOMA / south beach)

Thanks for getting back to me..I really appreciate your response to my earlier mail.like am serious in buying this item so pls do withdraw the advert from Craigslist. I will also like you to know that i will be paying by paypal due to the fact that i will not be able to meet up with the cash and local pick up, you can contact me on this number 18642739289 or email me. so you will be shipping it oversea.I will be adding $200 for the shipping and handling cost… I will need you to provide me with the Your paypal email address so i can send the money to your paypal account.

Hope to hear back from you.

| San Francisco, CA | link | trackback | Aug 19, 2009 12:52:33
  • Moniquee

    Same happens to me

  • Mark

    Thanks for the comments. I just had an offer from someone working offshore. I told them to send me a check and then they can pick it up, never heard back.

  • cathy

    This really helped.I almost felt for 2 scams and since i saw this i just cancelled it all.One was from Nigeria and another was overseas and they both threaten to report me.

  • cathy

    that happen to me to

    Thank god for google

  • Jenny

    This was very helpful. I am currently selling my car and I had two people contact me asking to pay through paypal but I am not familiar with it and I try to stay away from scams; due to the fact that this is the first vehicle I am ever selling on Craigslist I let them know that I would get back to them. I thought about considering it because I told them I’d need the money in order to get the pink slip from the bank and funny thing is they still agreed?

  • http://www.facebook.com/genna.schneider Genna Schneider

    omg < I have recieved that very same email for my truck i have on craigslist!! Thanks so much for this info!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/genna.schneider Genna Schneider

    The only difference is that it was from a Chris Peck!

  • http://www.facebook.com/genna.schneider Genna Schneider

    Here is another question… why can’t he wait until he gets on shore to look for a vehicle and pay for it in person with cash? why is he only looking for a vehicle while he’s out at sea? That is a BIG RED FLAG, and should tell you that its a scam!!

  • C.P.

    Same thing with me and my ad is on Craigslist in Hawaii! I have had about a dozen texts all describing the exact situations you have posted and thats why Im researching this issue. You rock! aloha

  • ozzybloke01

    I got this email from a mickwellc4@gmail in regards to my bike I am selling here in Australia so yes its a scam as well,,,,,

    Thanks for mailing back,am ok with the price and the condition,i work with New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) and we are presently offshore in New Zealand Taranaki Basin on kupe project.We do not have access to phone at the moment,its 15days off and 15days on and that’s why I contacted you with internet messaging facility.Regarding the payment,i will be paying you through PayPal,please get back to me with your paypal details so i can process the payment,you can alternatively send your bsb and acct number if you have no PayPal acct.I have also contacted my courier who will come for pick up and deliver it to my place in Darwin after the whole fund has been cleared into your acct.

    Await your reply

    Do these people really think Im stupid, who would spend 2k on a bike that you have never seen ???

  • Cat Can Do

    We just tried to sell our Miata convertible on Craigslist and was able to avoid being caught up in this scam. Want to thank you for listing what they said. Ours was texting that he was an oceanographer and leaving town immediately and would be without cell phone coverage. He first asked if it was still for sale. Then he said he was buying it for his dad as a present. We told him cash only but then he said he is unable to get to his bank because of where he is and that he would like to do it through paypal and they would draw it out of his bank. That was the sign I was waiting for and told him we have decided to do this with cash only and to a person who comes to look at the car. The phone number was 323-364-2793. We never gave any infomation about us and he never gave his name.

  • mark

    I had a guy wanting to buy my Car site unseen. Just send me the paypal email address. When I told him I did not have it. he said it is easy and safe and secure just link the account to your bank or credit card. I checked his phone number and it came back to Atlanta, GA I am in SD. I said how are you going to get the vehicle he then said I have a pickup agent that will come for it once payment clears and they will handle title. I did not sell it to him. Just sounded to fishy. would only pay by PayPal and 2000 miles away sorry

  • jon

    odd. I got 8 texts to start out. Sounded exactly like this. except he/she wants me to send a Paypal invoice. and someone else will come pick it up, after the money has gone through. Other than time. what might I be wasting?

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  • Daniel

    Yeah i was rushing to the post office until i got a second message from a diffrent phone number with the same exact message offering 600$ for my play station 4 and he would pay for the shipping he wanted me to send it to his fiance in nigiria i was so close!!!

  • Ryan

    Experienced the same thing when trying to sell my car this morning. Here was the contents of the Email that i got: Thank you for getting back to me.Can you assure me that it is in good state and that i will not be disappointed with it.I’m ready to pay your asking price and to be honest, but the issue is I’m a Marine Officer and I’m not in my own state now I’m now Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and use of mobile phone is not allow at the military base . But I’m able to access email anytime as we will make use of laptop so my only quickest payment option is PayPal as i can send money via PayPal anytime.Since I’m requesting this transaction to be done via PayPal….

  • jeff

    How about they get a hold of your PayPal information that is LINKED to your BANK ACCOUNT?

  • jeff

    When selling anything(CASH IS KING) you can always ask for C.O.D. It’s old school , but it is safe.

  • jeff

    If you sell on E Bay then PayPal is the way to go.Deposit only,then Cash for the remainder.

  • Jeff

    Let them, I was a police officer and have seen some great Scams.They won’t risk getting caught.

  • Jeff

    I am now awaiting my Check with an extra 50 thrown in for my “running Expense”. The check is bogus and when you send the extra back to their pick up people they have what they came for.You will have a bad check wreck your good account and be out the money you sent them.

  • Jeff

    This information can be used to set up credit accounts in your name. You may want to check your credit reports.

  • Jeff

    You spelled Do as DUE. Third line from the bottom. Thanks.

  • Jeff

    PayPal for a Deposit,Yes. PayPal for everything??????SCAM….

  • Jeff

    You can always ask them to have the shipper to bring you the money.They can send it to the shipper VIA PayPal. LOL. Pisses them off every time.Whats neat if they say their own shipper won’t take PayPal , Then why would you?

  • Jeff

    Personally I enjoy wasting all their time by sending Dumb questions for them to answer.Keeps them from getting others as I keep them on the leash.Working on one now that has sent me a check to cash and keep out an extra 50 for my troubles.They want me to send the balance to their shipper.If people put away greed and start looking with simple eyes they would see these scams for what they are.

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