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TMFBro (< 20)

Craigslist: Where the capitalists and scambags come together



December 01, 2009 – Comments (8)

The wife and I are moving the family to a smaller (though cooler) house in January, so we've been selling quite a bit of furniture on Craigslist. In less than 48 hours, we've sold three items. Awesome.

But I also received this email in response to two of our listings, from "Mr James Ben" at

"Could you kindly get back to me, if this item is still available for sale, As i am interested in buying

I replied that, yes, they were still available. Then again came two identical emails, this time from "Mr J Benson" at 

"Thanks for the prompt response. I have instructed my
account officer to  mail (overnight) a certified
check, while you hold this item for me. Let me know
when you receive the check and I will have my mover
will come pick up at your place.  Please forward me
the following info so I can issue your check . . .
1.Your full name
2.Your mailing address(Physical as Ups does not deliver to P.O.Box}
3.Your phone number.
** Please note that I will overnight the payment,and
you should receive it tomorrow. I appreciate you
holding this for me.  Please delete the posting as I
am definitely buying it from you and it would be sad
for me to have the payment in the mail only to be
informed of the its sale also am deaf and will like to be contacted via

In case you couldn't tell from the fishy smell wafting from this post, this is a scam. How does it work? Here's what happened to one woman in Hawaii:  "The buyer agreed to purchase the furniture for $230. She said she would send a check for $2,452 and asked the seller to deposit the check in the bank, deduct $230 and then send back the balance via Western Union. She said she would send a male friend to Western Union to pick up the check because she couldn’t leave the house. The seller agreed with the arrangement. After sending a check for the balance through Western Union, she learned that the original check was bogus."

I received a similar "offer" from another person, regarding something else we were selling. 

Craigslist is a great place to buy and sell used stuff, and to interact with criminals -- something few of us get to do on a regular basis. Fascinating. 

Robert Brokamp is the senior advisor for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service.

8 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On December 01, 2009 at 11:42 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.92) wrote:

Any time you receive an e-mail that could carbon-copied to a million other people with the same text, that says "scam" to me.  Notice the "buyer" never mentions the item he's buying.  He refers to it as "the item".  Not that you couldn't tell it was a scam anyway by the robotic nature of the response.

It appears that the CL scamsters are becoming more clever.  I've done the housing ads before and gotten a few scammers, but they were fairly obvious.  The person would also send a long e-mail filled with very unspecific info.  The scenario would normally be nonsensical, as well. 

For instance, had one person claim to be a family in Arlington that was moving to Africa.  They had a 3-BR condo they were looking for someone to watch. I could stay in the house for free (ha! everyone who knows anything about the DC Metro area knows rent is NEVER cheap or free here!), but I had to mail $50 for to them for the keys.  

I mean, seriously ... they're going to rent out a $2000/month condo for free, but they're worried about the $50 for mailing the keys?  Give me a break!

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#2) On December 01, 2009 at 12:13 PM, ETFsRule (< 20) wrote:

When were the capitalists and scambags ever apart? :-)

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#3) On December 01, 2009 at 12:48 PM, kdakota630 (29.10) wrote:

My wife and I have encountered this a few times, even once from someone who was going to prepay for daycare.

On one occasion they even sent a cheque which looks legit.  I called the bank to deposit it and then hold the funds in the account, assuming it would bounce but was told by the bank NOT to do that because simply by depositing a fraudulent cheque (even not knowing it was fraudulent) that it would red-flag my account in the future.

What annoyed me about it was when I called the police so they could follow up on it, they basically told me to throw the cheque away because it would be too much work and expense for them to chase down the person responsible, so don't expect this type of fraud to end any time soon.

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#4) On December 01, 2009 at 8:53 PM, alexpaz (28.37) wrote:

I have to admit, I fell for one of these scams on Craiglist while trying to rent out a property...


It's amazing how good the checks are that they send you, even the Wachovia employees thought it was real.


Make sure you read the Scam section on Craigslist before you buy or sell anything.

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#5) On December 01, 2009 at 9:31 PM, RLAprof (< 20) wrote:

I had something for sale on CL, and I received a couple of those same scam emails. They wanted my address so they could send the bogus check, so I gave it to them. Well, I gave them a name and address: local chief of police. What they did with it, I really don't care.

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#6) On December 02, 2009 at 1:06 PM, tonybamboni (< 20) wrote:

Anyone know a good broker? I have used sharebuilder and not happy with them.

Anyone heard of sogotrade?

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#7) On December 02, 2009 at 1:08 PM, tonybamboni (< 20) wrote:

Sogotrade has 3 dollar trades

I think its like .50 for a contract for options.

just 2 trade is the lowest of all with only 2.50 a trade havent tried them out

If you plan to join sogotrade you can  use a referral code to get 100 free trades 541429

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#8) On December 05, 2009 at 6:03 PM, Teacherman1 (< 20) wrote:

Foolanthropy On.

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