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How to spot a Craigslist scammer

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Marc Morfei, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    People here often swear they will never use Craigslist because (among other reasons) they are worried about scammers. Yeah, it's a pain, but they are actually very easy to spot. For example, I listed an item on Craigslist this morning, and here is a response email I received almost immediately. It is a perfect example of a common scam:

    from: Rivka Sperl <b612f90e686b38138c2fd24128e09731@reply.craigslist.org>
    i need to to know if you still have it available. if so as i am moving now reach me here please grahamjessie5713@gmail.com

    OK gang, can you tell this is a scam? Here's how you know:
    • The response comes to you within an hour or two of posting a new listing. This means someone is sitting there and responding automatically to every new listing, trying to hook someone.
    • They don't mention your item specifically. They refer to it as "your item" or, in this case, "it." If you were selling a telecaster, a real buyer would say he is interested in your telecaster, or at least "your guitar." The generic reference to "your item" means they are sending the exact same email to every single seller of every single item.
    • They use poor grammar or broken English. This is not always a sign of a scam, but it's more like a added tipoff. Some legitimate people are just careless with typing, or may not be native speakers, and that's fine. I have sold more than one thing to someone like that.
    • And most importantly: They want you to contact them through some other means outside the Craigslist system. The purpose of the CL system is it does not publicly reveal your true contact info. When someone asks right away for you to contact them separately, they are fishing for your phone number or email address. Once they have that, there are all kinds of nasty things they can do.
    • And finally, NEVER click on a hyperlink that comes to you blindly in a unsolicited email. This person wants me to contact them at the highlighted and underlined email, which is a hyperlink. But I don't know what will happen if I click that link. Maybe it will implant a virus, spyware, who knows. Don't click the link!
    All I do when I get an email like this is delete it. Not everyone is willing to endure this kind of BS, and I get it. But if you are selling a legitimate item at a fair price, legitimate buyers will show up, guaranteed. It just takes patience.
     
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  2. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    I have stopped advertising my services (math tutoring) on CraigsList. For every legit inquiry I'd get 25 scammers. They were very easy to spot: no *actual* parent wants to send me a (forged) money order for 10 lessons without asking me any questions to see if I'm a good fit for their student's needs.

    It didn't slow the scammers down in the slightest when I added into the ad "please don't try to pull the forged money order scam on me, I know how it works."
     
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  3. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    A lot of this stuff is automated. It makes sense, because the low effort required per attempt makes one score worth it even in the face of 100 failures.
     
  4. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Yes, like most other good things, there is a risk CL will be killed by people who abuse it. I have to say that I don't get too many. not sure if that's luck, or if there is any rhyme or reason...
     
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  5. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    I have a feeling they try this on every personal service advertiser. My replies were definitely targeted towards tutors, all sorts of rigamarole about their beloved nephew traveling here from Europe blahh blahh blahh. It could easily have been automated for a search on all tutors though, and tweaked a little for other personal services.
     
  6. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    When I had the time and was in the mood I would string them along for a while just to waste their time.
    I do it sometimes to the Nigerian princes too.
     
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  7. Nightclub Dwight

    Nightclub Dwight Tele-Afflicted

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    I think I'm in the minority, but I've never had a problem with Craigslist. @Marc Morfei makes some good suggestions. Also, a healthy dose of common sense goes a long way.

    Last week I was going to buy a Boss DD3 locally on CL. The first tip off that I might not want to do business with the guy was that I didn't hear back in 24 hours (I had responded within an hour of him posting the ad). I sent another email saying that I hadn't heard back from my initial inquiry. I always give them a way to save face, so I added that "I know that emails sometimes don't go through on the Craigslist system." He got right back to me this time, saying that he had been busy. Busy, really? Why post the ad if you are too busy to answer back. We set a general time and place to meet last Monday. I emailed him a couple of hours before to confirm and never heard back from him. The ad is still up, but I won't deal with someone that wastes my time so I am done. No real problem on my end, all I had invested was a few quick emails. Oh well, I still have that sixty bucks burning a hole in my pocket.

    That is about the worst of it for me. Other than a few flakes like that, I have had nothing but success buying and selling on Craigslist.
     
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  8. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Marc,

    Some great tips!

    Craigslist works okay, it's not perfect, but it does work at times.

    It's easy to spot the serious scams, but there are some others that are more subtle. I usually don't have much issue with selling certain items. But there is a huge difference when you offer a service. Not sure why, but that has been my experience.

    And remember, Craigslist is FREE!! I have sold stuff on E-bay, Reverb and even Amazon, they charge fees, so many people are not willing to pay for selling their items.

    It works!
     
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  9. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    This made me laugh.... I do NOT have email on my cell phone. So the only time I see email is when I open my computer.

    Then worse sometimes I see an email but don't answer that very moment and it can get buried...

    No excuses!

    It's just that I'm one of the flakes!! :)
     
  10. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Here's another one. If you get an email quoting the exact title from the posting (ex: I am interested in your 2011 Fender American Standard Telecaster, Excellent, $1250) you can bet it's a robot text.

    The best way to avoid these idiots is by communication only through Craigslist.
     
  11. JJLC

    JJLC Tele-Holic

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    years ago I listed four guitars on Craigslist; they all sat for a month with no interest.
    I listed all four on eBay & they were all sold in less than a month.
    Needless to say I don't sell on Craigslist.

    I sell on Reverb now so, no need for Craigslist, nor for eVilbay. :D
     
  12. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    My pet peeve is the ads that say things like "no scammers" and "no low ballers". They both just sound to me like an old man yelling at his computer.

    I suppose the no low ballers thing kind of actually works because it makes it clear that they really do think that whatever they're listing is worth 20% more than retail and they aren't willing to haggle so I won't waste either of our time.
     
  13. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I've bought and sold all kinds of stuff Craigslist. Snakes, cars and guitars. Never had a problem. Just use common sense. As far as buying, I stay away from anything with a weird price, like $283 or a price that is way below obvious market value. Those are usually scammers.
     
  14. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I do sell quite a few things on CL simply because once sold it is done. I don't have to deal with scammers filling complaints later demanding a refund or something. Local sell off means cash in hand, they tested the item, and we never have to deal with each other again.

    Now, the key to avoid scammers is really very simple, put your actual phone number in the ad and advise them that no emails and no texts will be replied to. Scammers will only use text and emails, they will never call you. If you get a text or email and wonder if they are legit, tell them to call you....they will not unless they are legite.

    I will not even try to contact a seller if there is no number listed in the ad. I don't waste me time as the email system is so buggy that your email can take days to reach the seller if at all.

    I know, people like to give the advice to never give out your number, but your number is already all over the place, it isn't a big secret. In my case, my cell is plastered across my company van and on my business cards / website so there is no reason to be restrictive any longer. I will absolutely assure you that if you are not listing your phone number in the ad, you are missing out on people who would have purchased your stuff right away.
     
  15. Nightclub Dwight

    Nightclub Dwight Tele-Afflicted

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    I think we can give you a pass!
     
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  16. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had success on CL, but use it sparingly. I dont sell music stuff on it anymore, but I've bought gear as recently as last week (a $60 drum set... 5 piece, no stool, Zildjan crash, tama low grade snare.... but yea, $60....)

    If it's less than $500 CL is cool. Otherwise you get faster sales on Reverb.


    I hate people spamming. Someone frequenting the CL Columbus page has a major Hate-On for a pawn shop listing on there. Another person is spamming a US double cut tele they're asking full price on. It happens. Oh well.

    Edit:

    But sometimes people try to sell you a pre-WW2 telecaster.....
    https://columbus.craigslist.org/msg/d/howard-1918-fender-telecaster-guitar/7204969270.html
     
  17. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Is the item still available ???

    If you will ship it to Nigeria, I will send you payment of many thousands of dollars, if you give me your banking account information ..
     
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  18. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yep, they are easy to ID. Just dont list your number, make them reply by CL email. I recently sold my beloved 65 BFDR on CL, sold in one day at full price, no issues.
     
  19. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Thats easy... go to the website... open the first ad...
     
  20. Hey_you

    Hey_you Tele-Holic

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    When your cursor hovers over the link, look at the bottom of the page. It shows the link address to you. That's a big clue too.
     
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