So, my friend has been trying to sell a pretty big item on Craigslist for a couple of months now. Recently she has re-posted it so that it is at the top of the scrolling a list. If you aren’t familiar with Craigslist, it is a community of people selling, buying, trading, and doing other WEIRD shit that we won’t get into in this article… Anyways, to keep your post fresh, it is recommended to do some re-posting from time to time. Once she did this re-post, all hell broke loose. She received 3 e-mails/texts from a scam bot (or a real person) in one day and below, you will see the messages she received below:
So, obviously they are spam, no doubt about it. Someone somewhere is trying to steal money from my dear friend. NOT COOL. My friend asked me to write about her experience, so maybe at least the people who read my blog can at least know how business SHOULD be conducted on Craigslist: buying, selling, or looking for jobs. I did a little research and compiled a short list of things that to know and do to stay safe from others trying to scam you. I do want to make mention, however, that this article is not intended to bash Craigslist in any way, as I know of a few successes of buying/selling that has taken place on this site.
- Never deal with anyone overseas, in another state (unless its a neighboring state, and they are close to the border), or anyone who gives excuses as to why they cannot meet you in person. Scammers will lie about being missionaries, in the military, etc. to explain why they are “overseas” or whatever. DO NOT believe that shit. Not for a minute. My friend didn’t believe it!
- Avoid wire transfers, cashier’s checks, or money orders. You are not protected should these things bounce. CASH is the only SECURE transaction. This reminds me of a time when we were trying to sell an old couch on Craigslist and someone was trying to buy it with a gift card that was supposedly more than what we were asking for our couch. Ummmm. Yeah right!! So that we could go and use that “gift card” and there be no money on it? No fools here! CASH ONLY!
- Do not send financial information to an online escrow account. Just don’t do it! This is common sense. Even if the site looks legit… Read more about escrow acct scams here.
- Do not commit until you see and know what you are purchasing in person. But of course you are going to do this, because you are paying with cash, correct? Also be aware of someone who is willing to buy your item without seeing it. ESPECIALLY if you are selling something of value, like my friend is.
- Don’t fall for job scams. Be careful of an “employer” that is willing to hire you without an interview. Who in the hell does that anyways? Research the company. If they are legit, they will not sketchy about letting you know their information and how to contact them. If there is a supposed office near by, visit to make sure they are the real deal before giving any kind of information needed for a background or credit check. Never accept these jobs: secret shopping, international shipping management, foreign financial transfers, survey taking, anything that requires you to PAY money, or anything that states “work from home” with out further explanation. I made the mistake of posting my resume on Craigslist… Bad mistake. You wouldn’t believe the shit that flooded my inbox. I took that down ASAP.
- Invest in a counterfeit detection pen, like the ones they use at stores to make sure the money is real. That way when your buyer is giving you CASH, it is real currency.
- Craislist does not certify listings. If someone states that they are “certified” or “guaranteed” by Craigslist, they are lying, and you need to stop communication. There is no such thing as “Craigslist Buyer Protection” or “Craigslist Payment Services.” Avoid these assholes like the plague.
- Research the buyer/seller. Check phone numbers on sites like this one. Also, you can input the number in a search engine and it will pull up sites where others have reported them as spam. Some go into detail, so you can know EXACTLY what these people are trying to do. You can always use this site as well, to check fishy e-mails/phone numbers to see if others have reported them, and this site is where I started my research at. Search names, e-mails, phone numbers… ALWAYS. My friend also did this, and was pretty astonished at what she found. This alone save you ass.
- Don’t give out more personal information as necessary. Ya know, like your name, address, phone number, etc. (remember the Craigslist killer a few years back?). So there’s that. Use your head. When you find someone that seems legit, and wants to buy, you can apparently create a free disposable phone number using Google voice here. This is pretty cool.
- Trust your gut. It never fails you, ever. If it seems too good to be true, then it is.
I hope this information has been helpful. There some are ruthless people out there, and they could care less if they ruin your credit, suck your bank account dry, or just ruin your life all together. Cyberspace is a SCARY place! Make informed decisions when it comes to your life, family, property, or money. Save yourself the trouble by going an extra step or two.