Craigslist Scammer, A Close Call

Since I write about selling unused stuff on Craigslist and eBay, I just want to share my recent experience with you. Basically, you have to be careful with who you are dealing with when you are selling in these online markets. There are a lot of scammers in these marketplaces and you don’t want to end up as a victim.

scam

Photo by Jepoirrier via Flickr

My close call with a Craigslist scammer

After listing an item on Craigslist for about a day, I received the following email:

Thanks for the response.I am willing to pay your asking price. I will pay by money order as its the only way i can pay you at the moment. I will make arrangement for the pick-up after payment have been received by you. I dont mind adding an extra twenty dollars so you can keep it in my favor. Reply with your full name, cell phone number, and address where payment should be sent. Please take the posting off craigslist today and consider it sold to me.

Expecting to hear from you soon.

It seems fine when I read it, but in the back of my mind I was wondering why the buyer didn’t simply offer to pay when he picks up the item. Why send money order first then arrange a pick up later?

Then a few days later, I got this email:

I have given my assistant the go ahead to mail payment to you. You should receive payment within the coming week (6-7days time). Once payment is received we can proceed with the pickup. Thanks for your understanding and patience.

I thought, okay this guy must be a big shot because he’s having his assistant making arrangement for his personal purchases on Craigslist.

And a few days later, I received this email:

I hope you are fine and alright. I have been busy myself but doing great. There is something i think i must bring to your notice. After a reconciliation of my account, i discovered that somehow my assistant must have over paid you. The payment that was meant for another transaction was sent to you and the one meant for you was sent to another, however i want to believe i wont have a problem with you. Please once you receive your payment, i would like you to deduct your money and send the remaining via money gram to my daughter so she can settle some of her pressing needs and also reactivate my Fed ex account. I will provide the info you need to complete the money gram transfer once you receive payment. Thanks once again for your understanding.

Okay, at this point, red flags were going up everywhere — overpayment, subtle threat, money gram to someone else, etc. I doubt I will see the money order, and it’s will be fake if I do get one. If you do receive a check or money order from these scammers, do not try to cash it. When the bank finds out, it will hold you responsible. For example, here’s a news story of a man who was arrested and jailed for trying to cash one of these checks.

How to avoid scams and fraud

Here’s a good article from Craigslist on avoiding scams and fraud:

  • Deal locally with folks you can meet in person – follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on Craigslist.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • Fake cashier checks & money orders are common, and banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • Never give out financial information (bank account number, social security number, eBay/Paypal info, etc.)
  • Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services and know that only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

It’s unfortunate that these lowlifes are everywhere. However, I still believe in using eBay and Craigslist to buy and sell used items. It’s up to you to learn how to detect these scams and to defend yourself.

About the Author

By , on Aug 11, 2008
Pinyo
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo have enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (73 Comments)

  1. Patrick says:

    Scammer alert!

    Watch out if you get a text requesting you to email from this #:

    971-203-7432

  2. Eddy says:

    He is STILL at IT Even TODAY. Uses many emails.

  3. Mike says:

    I just got a weird email from johnpilek@gmail.com myself, and my search led me to this site. I thought it seemed phishy!

    Here’s the email “he” sent me:

    still up for sale please reply me with your email address to my email johnpilek@gmail.com make sure you get back to me asap please make sure you reply me to the email i give to you thanks

  4. fred m says:

    Pretty funny – the original post is from late 2008. Today I did receive an e-mail for a craigslist item and the guy did not even bother to change the above mentioned e-mail text in a single word (almost, the 20 additional $ changed to 30 – must be inflation). More than 4 years later and they have not come up with new ideas – but then, I also still get the $20 Million e-mail out of Nigeria ….

  5. Patrick says:

    here are some more emails from another scumbag

    Maxwell Morgan t2ruliesz@gmail.com

    9:14 PM (0 minutes ago)

    to me:

    Hi,

    Your payment has been sent but there is something i think i must bring to your notice. I just found out that my Assistant overpaid you. The payment meant for another item was made out in your name and sent to you. However I want to believe I wont have a problem with you on this. Once you receive the payment, Please proceed to the bank and cash the payment, deduct your money and send back the Balance to me through western union. So I can proceed with arrangement for pick-up. Once more, I hope I can fully trust you with this? I will await your response on this so my mind can be at ease.

    Thanks.

    Thanks for putting my mind at rest. I am sure you will get payment very soon. Please let me know as soon as you have received it so i can tell you where to send my balance and also schedule pick-up. You can deduct the western union fees from my money

  6. Eric says:

    I just got a response to an ad from this guy as well. Beware of a John Bishop using this address: johnpilek@gmail.com.

  7. Jeffrey Jacobson says:

    Thank you Pinyo! I got the very same message. I wondered why someone who can vacation in London and who has their assistant write check for them wants to buy my used bed. It’s a great high-end mechanica bed, but used….

  8. CM says:

    Just adding some email/names to the mix since I got the SAME email for my craiglist item.

    1st contact
    Original name = t i, email= ainlifuroptyo@gmail.com. When I replied, the email chgd to: name = JOHN BISHOP, email = johnpilek@gmail.com.

    2nd contact
    Original name – Desiree Sherle, email – jennyjoy6384@gmail.com, BUT she signs with the name Eva Bedford and it’s sent via an iPhone.
    I replied, and the email chgd to: Name – Annabel Adamek, email – Arlinekza568@yahoo.com.

    3rd Contact
    original name – Holly Kemp, email: arlinekza568@yahoo.com
    Signs with Cheyenne Mcneil in the email body. This time, it just gives you a link to “make money.”

    So, beware!

  9. Taylor F says:

    I just had the same experience- this guy posted a response to a Chicago Craigslist posting. I am glad I found this thread!

    matthew Ribery

    Hi,
    Am glad it’s available. I’m going on a vacation to London but I will instruct my assistant to prepare and mail your payment which I’m sure you will get in about 4 – 6 business days. I’ll add $20 extra for the delay. I’ll pay by M O or cashier check so send me your info (i.e full name, mailing address and your phone number) so payment can be mailed out immediately. I will also make arrangement for pick-up which will be after you must have received and cashed the payment. Awaiting your info.
    Thanks

  10. Matt says:

    Just received similar email for my item on Craigslist.

    1st email from “g k ”

    The person responded with this:

    “matthew Ribery johnpilek@gmail.com to me
    show details 4:22 PM (24 minutes ago)
    Hi,
    Am glad it’s available. I’m going on a vacation to London but I will instruct my assistant to prepare and mail your payment which I’m sure you will get in about 4 – 6 business days. I’ll add $20 extra for the delay. I’ll pay by M O or cashier check so send me your info (i.e full name, mailing address and your phone number) so payment can be mailed out immediately. I will also make arrangement for pick-up which will be after you must have received and cashed the payment. Awaiting your info.
    Thanks”

  11. Alexandria Suzanne says:

    yeah i got one today as well this was just not right didnt feel the need for someone living out of state to be looking for goods on craigslist in orange county california.

    “Hello Alexandria.
    I got your email, and thanks so much for getting back to me.

    I’m happy that the item is still up available for sale.

    I think I have considered the price of your (HTC Sensation) okay for me.

    But I would love to purchase it for my son who is right in Africa for his international studies as a surprise package for I know it will be of a WONDERFUL XMAS SURPRISE PACKAGE to him.

    However,I reside in #16 Harvard Street Nashua,New Hampshire.

    Please I would love to see the package locally and pay for it BUT due to distance and the nature of my work as a CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT,I have a tight job schedule as an accountant,am always busy all day doing so many office work.

    But if you can send me the picture personally to me through e-mail,I would really appreciate it.

    Please remove your ad of the item from craigslist and consider it already sold to me.

    I would be sending you a total of $440 to cover for the package and for the shipment cost/insurance to him through USPS EXPRESS MAIL.

    Please I would not like to make mistake when sending the money order payment to you at your residence/address.

    Just Send me correctly:

    Full Name
    Contact Address
    City
    State
    Zip/Postal Code

    Immediately,I will send you a money order payment that will be delivered to you at your house/residence.
    I assure you that once I receive your information for the payment,I will send out the payment to you quickly.

    OR WOULD YOU PREFER PAYPAL?SEND ME YOUR PAYPAL REQUEST.

    I await to hear from you as soon as possible so that I can make the payment as fast as I can.

    Thanks.
    Sarah.”

  12. Irene says:

    “Hi,
    Am glad it’s available. I’m going on a vacation to London but I will instruct my assistant to prepare and mail your payment which I’m sure you will get in about 4 – 6 business days. I’ll add $20 extra for the delay. I’ll pay by M O or cashier check so send me your info (i.e full name, mailing address and your phone number) so payment can be mailed out immediately. I will also make arrangement for pick-up which will be after you must have received and cashed the payment. Awaiting your info.
    Thanks”

    I actually responded and after multiple emails, I received two MO of 955$ each two days later! I fell for it but not all the way through. I DID NOT CASH IT IN. THE MO’S WERE OBVIOUSLY FAKE and I am going to report it to the police (maybe). Wow, I feel stupid but not enough to fall for it completely.

    Emails were: johnpilek@gmail.com and avimperman@gmail.com.

    Aliases were: Matthew Reberry, Matthew Rubbery, Wilson Bishop

    BEWARE.

  13. Michelle Autry says:

    I am having a similar situation occurring right now. I had someone from Ohio wanting to order AVON from me–in South Carolina. I thought it weird getting me so far away but proceeded to be nice–and always skeptical.

    I then got an email last night that read very similar to your response. The payment was sent to me for too much and can I forward the remainder of the payment to her daughter for her wedding expenses. The other thing is the extreme poor grammer this person has.

    I called her on it and told her I was very suspicious and I plan to cut ties with her.

    Thanks for the post of this to help me have double assurance that someone is TRYING to scam me. Not today SISTA!!!!!!

  14. Roberta says:

    Unreal. This scam is STILL going on. I just got a scam response to a craigslist posting that is identical in language to this one. Realized it was fishy pretty early on, terminated the transaction, reported it to craigslist and filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

  15. Jim says:

    Hi Julie:

    What exactly is happening to you? Maybe if you explain, I can think of how to halt a transaction, or think of recourse. But I would need to know where you are in the process first.

  16. Julie says:

    This scam is happening right now to me is there anything I can do to catch him? Who can I call the guy does not know that I know yet?

  17. Sherry says:

    Hi, I put a laptop for sale on craigslist and all the emails (5 of them so far) have been scammers. this is just crazy to me. This is one of them I received and I did not even get a first one asking if it was available:

    “Thanks for the prompt response to my mail. I will be buying it from you so please kindly withdraw the advert . Please to be informed that i will pay you with a Cashier Check and once you have the check cashed at your bank then i will arrange for the pick up at your place..I will need the following details to mail the payment as soon
    as possible.

    Name to be on the check____
    Home address____
    City____
    State____
    Zip Code_____
    Cell phone #______

    Thanks.

    All of the other ones I just emailed back and told them cash only pick up.

  18. Jim says:

    Unfortunately this article does not explain what happens to a buyer who purchases something on Craigslist and pays cash but does not get a real receipt. The cash is gone. The property which the buyer has will be confiscated by the police.So the buyer looses the cash and the item. A cashier’s check drawn on site and cashed on site protects the buyer from being accused of receiving stolen property! Don’t hand over cash to anyone unwilling to show you a real store receipt for the item. How else can you be sure its not stolen? Wake up people and realize not all the theives are in Nigeria!

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