The Nigerian Mail Scam
You put up a product for sale on Craigslist and you instantly get bombarded with emails. Some scammers are very obvious and you will easily be able to spot them. Some are very careful and will slowly lure you in. There are a few clues that should easily give away a scam.
* When you send them an email with questions and they ignore certain questions and only answer the ones they want. This isn't by accident, it is purposeful.
* When they start asking for personal information. No matter what the excuse, there is no reason for you to give out any type of passwords or account information for Ebay, PayPal, Bank, SSN, or anything else. Don't give out your real emails, your real address or phone numbers. Create temporary accounts for these dealings. There are many services on the web you can use for this. Read my other posts to find out more.
* If you are redirected to a site like PayPal, be VERY SURE you are on PayPal and not just a fake site made to get your info. You can do this by looking at the page source and see where the page is being created from.
* If they agree to purchase your item but will send you a check for more money to cover shipping, handling, insurance, a few bucks that you will send back to them and a little for your trouble, be VERY AFRAID! Specially if they dangle the carrot of a few bucks for your trouble. They are playing on your greed. The check will be false and you will get in trouble for bank fraud if the bank decides to go after you and not the crooks. You will also be stuck with the lost funds taken out of your account. So in essence you became the cash cow for the crooks.
One common theme is the over payment check. You will hear me repeat this over and over again. Another is bad grammar and irrelevant information. Some people will be taken in by the scammers ramblings. It's always about religion, or how a family member is sick or in dire straits. They ramble on and on hoping to confuse you. Another is that someone else made a mistake and they need your help. Example: "My secretary sent you the wrong check. I know the cost of the item was $200 but my secretary sent you the check for $5,000 that was supposed to go to my movers. Please cash the check immediately (don't delay! If you take time to think about it you might spot my scam.) Then keep the $200 and an extra $300 for your trouble and send the overage of $4,500 to my moving company at this address." Doesn't that sound a little too easy? Wouldn't it be easier to stop payment and send you another check? Are they so incredibly honest and kind hearted that they can rely on you to handle their money like that? Wouldn't most people be tempted to keep the entire amount and say "Screw you!". The answer is YES, but they don't care because the checks are always BAD so they have no money to loose. Honestly, how many people would send back $4,500 when you can just hold on to it? The people that are dumb enough to be taken in by the easy money.
I came across another site that had some fun with one of these
scams. The guy got a similar email to what I just described and he
sent back an email responding with something like this: "Dear sir. I
agree to accept your check for the $200 for the item you wish to
purchase. I also agree to take another $300 for my trouble. On top
of that I must insist on $500 for travel expenses to go to and from
the bank, another $300 for food (traveling makes me hungry). Plus I
must have another $200 for snacks (Eating makes me thirsty). There
will also be a $1,500 charge using my bank to facilitate on the
return of your money (banks are expensive here in the U.S.) and a
$2,000 fee that I must use to buy a gift for my wife or she will
wonder where all this money came from. In short, I am sorry but all
of your money will be consumed in expenses and there is nothing left
to return." I thought that was pretty creative and amusing.