Have you’ve ever tried to sell something on craigslist? If so, then you know how convenient and easy it is to use. All you need is a computer and access to the internet. Hell, you don’t even need a computer. A smartphone or tablet will do.
Craigslist is local, so you reach prospective buyers within your geographic area. You can create your own description of whatever it is that you wish to sell and upload up to eight digital images, which you can post in the ad. And unlike your local newspaper classified ads, craigslist is free!
That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are probably as many scammers who respond to your ads for the goodies you’re selling as there are legitimate buyers. At least that’s been my personal craigslist experience. The replies from these scam artists pretty much follow the same script, typified by this response to an ad for a hitch-mounted bicycle rack I recently posted on craigslist. It went something like this:
My assistant [or agent/shipping agent/representative] told me your item is still for sale on craigslist. I am on a business trip [or am out of town/from another country] and wouldn’t want to lose it to someone else. I am willing to guarantee to pay your asking price. I will pay by money order [or certified check/wire transfer] as it is the only way I can pay you at the moment. I [or my shipping agent/assistant/representative] will make arrangements for the pick-up after payment has been received by you. I don’t mind adding an extra [X] dollars so you can keep it in my favor. Reply with your full name, phone number, and address where payment should be sent. As soon as this is provided, the payment will be mailed out via USPS Priority mail or FedEx to you and I will let you know when it’s mailed out. Please take the posting off craigslist today and consider it sold to me. Expecting to hear from you soon.
One scammer with a similarly worded response had the audacity to write, “I need you to be honest with the sale as I am a God-fearing person.” and ended the email reply with “God Bless.” Oh yeah, that approach works wonders to assuage the skepticism of an atheist like me.
Another scammer said that his shipping agent was arranging for pick up of “the item” and he needed to pay the shipping company in advance. To facilitate the transaction, he said he would send me a certified check for an amount in excess of my asking price and he requested that I wire the difference to his “shipping agent.” Now that sounds like a really good idea – NOT!
I have even tried adding the words, “CASH AND CARRY ONLY” to my craigslist ads, but that doesn’t seem to faze the scammers. It’s so damn annoying having to deal with these charlatans and to figure out who is genuine and who is trying to pull a fast one.
Apparently the folks at craigslist know that this is a serious problem because they have posted guidelines on the site with hints for how to avoid scams:
- DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is likely 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.
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification.”
- 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.
In other words, when you go to sell your items on craigslist, you’re are on your own; it’s best of luck, baby. But then again, I suppose you get what you pay for.
Oh, by the way, you know that hitch mounted bike rack I mentioned earlier? Well, I just sold it to a guy who came to my house and handed me cash.
Thank you craigslist!