Pretty Weak Scam Attempt on Craigslist

The Internet is a great tool for millions of people.  However, there are still some wild west aspects out there to be weary of.  The anonymity has allowed criminals around the world a new frontier for a host of new scams, as well as old scams reinvented.  I came across one this weekend I thought I’d share not only because it’s pretty funny, but because it may help you avoid a similar trap.

I consider myself a bad target for scams.  I’m not too gullible when it comes to “too good to be true” web deals, and I’m almost sure Bill Gates won’t pay me a dollar for every person I forward an email to. 

So here’s my story.  I have a kegerator, one of those amazing beer dispensing machines, that I use for tailgating during football season.  Not only is it glorious, but it’s more economical than buying beer by the case.  Anyhow, I’m upgrading to a full-size unit, as mine only holds a pony keg.  I posted mine on www.craigslist.com, and got this response within two minutes (literally):

Is the item still available?

To which I replied:

Yep.  Want to come see it this weekend?

No problems yet.  Until his next email, which raised the first red flags:

Hello,     

I am quite satisfied with the condition of the item and price.Am very much interested in buying the item from you  and I would like to make an outright purchase immediately so I will advice that you withdraw the advert from the web ,I don’t mind adding $50 for you to do that.I will be paying with a certified check.Furthermore my mover will be coming over for the pick up as I might not be available for the pick up myself I would have love to come and look it up but presently am not chance to do that but am OK with  the information from  the ad.I will need the following information details to make payment arrangement done asap today. 

1,Your full name to be on the Payment.
2,Your mailing address including zip code.
3,Your phone number both land and mobile.

Get me the following information as soon as possible.  

Warmest Regards,
Gerald

OK, a few red flags there.  For starters, who buys an item like this site unseen?  No questions about it’s condition?  Second, there are some issues with his English.  For example, the term “advert” as well as the commas after the numbers is very European.  However that in and of itself isn’t a huge issue here, since I live in a college town with plenty of international residents.  

So at this point I was about 85% sure it was a scam.  But I figured why not take the next step just to see?  He already has my name from my email.  I’ll give him my office address and see what happens.  So here was my reply:

Gerald,  

Thanks for the generous offer!  Just want to clarify one thing.  As I’m sure you figured, I’ll need to wait until the check clears before allowing your mover to take the item.  If you’re in a bigger rush, I’d glady accept paypal or cash.  Do either of those options work for you?  

Looking forward to your response.  

Thanks!
Peter 

To which he responded:

Yes Ofcourse. We will await the clearance of the check..Let me have the infoirmation to  have the check sent to without delay.  

Gerald.

So I gave him the info.  I know he can’t do anything without my routing number, and so far I had very limited exposure.  I still couldn’t figure out the scam.  That is, until his next email came later that night (must’ve been morning in Nigeria):

Hi Peter,      

It was just brought to my notice that my secretary has posted the payment already, but there was a slight error which  I guess we can handle with care, instead of the $400,the actual amount of the item,she made out the check for $3400, she claimed that I requested that but she didn’t get that straight and the payment was already posted before I was notified.       

So once you have the check please cash it and  deduct the money for your goods plus $50 that for your running around expenses.The excess fund should please be sent to my mover via MoneyGram.This fund will be use in offsetting the cost of the shipment he has undertaken  for me recently. **Please email at once to let me know that i can trust to have the excess funds sent to my mover**    

Regards,
Gerald

For anyone still thinking this is a great deal, let me explain.  I cash the check, send him the excess, and seven days later the check bounces because it is 100% fake.  It’s sad to think how many people actually fall for this type of thing.

So at this point, I know it’s a scam.  I should really walk away.  However, it’s my belief that the more time he spends on me, the less time he’s scamming someone else.  So I’m going to have some fun with him.  I sure hope the check gets here soon!  Don’t worry…I won’t cash it.  Here’s what I replied:

Ill just give the excess to the mover.  No need to pay for a moneygram. Don’t worry, I won’t screw you out of the excess.  
Peter

I may have played my hand too far there with the last comment.  Hopefully he still thinks I’m on the hook.

So there are two lessons to take away from this.  First, beware of deals online that are too good to be true.  Because they are!  Second, I still have a pony kegerator for sale.  Check it out here.  Nigerian Bankers and exiled Liberian Princes are welcome to make offers!