Red flags on Craigslist

Posted by Ken Campbell October 8, 2012 0 Comment 1646 views
I have a few kayaks I’m trying to sell. One of them, a Kevlar Arluk III, is an especially good deal at $800. I put it on Craigslist, thinking the additional exposure might make a sale happen more quickly and, sure enough, I got a nibble right away. 
“Is it still available?” James asked. When I wrote him back and told him it was, he sent a reply. See if any red flags jump out from his emails.
I am going on 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 $30 extra for the delay. I’ll pay by M.O. or cashier check and I will also make arrangement for pick-up which will be after you must have received and cashed the payment.
Multiple problems: Why tell me about your “vacation to LONDON?” People who buy kayaks sight-unseen off of Craigslist don’t have assistants. 4-6 business days? The offer to pay more than the asking price… No questions about the condition of the kayak… the idea that I must cash the payment and then we can talk about picking up the boat. I knew it was a scam, but I figured I’d go with it for a while.
After writing again and asking me to take the item off of Craigslist, “James” wrote me another email. More flags…
I urgently have to bring something to your notice. I just found out that my Assistant overpaid you. The payment meant for another transaction was made out in your name and sent to you. However I want to believe I won’t 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 via money gram money transfer. 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. I will await your response on this so my mind can be at rest.
The stilted English. The tortured syntax. The detailed directions of what I should do to resolve the “problem.” The whole thing seems like it was written in some internet cafe in Nigeria or India and the smell of scam oozes out of the computer as I read it. Other than terrorists or con artists, who uses Western Union these days?
Needless to say, I won’t be following the directions from James. But I do want to see the money order he sends, if it indeed ever gets here. (We’re at the 6th business day at this point.) The takeaway from this is that there are some brilliant scams out there – this isn’t one of them – and that it isn’t just the buyer that needs to beware. Us sellers have to pay attention too.
And I still have the Arluk III and it’s a great deal. Call me.

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