Last week I became the target of a Craigslist scam. Thankfully, I managed to avoid becoming a victim. Still, I thought I’d pass on exactly what happened and what to watch for. Hopefully this will keep my readers from falling for similar scams.
I put my motorcycle up for sale on Cragslist last week. I’ve enjoyed the bike quite a bit since I got it. However, I haven’t ridden much lately. Between hauling kids around, or hauling stuff to the dojo, or hauling stuff to and from work, or the 95+ degree heat, I just haven’t been on it. In fact, the last time I rode it was when I moved it to the new house – a year ago. I like the bike, and I’d probably like to ride again someday. But letting it sit for years on end isn’t good for it. Better to let it go to a new home – a better home.
The bike also served its purpose. When I bought it, I needed dirt cheap transportation and I needed it badly. It filled that role, and filled it very well. These days, I have other options. It simply isn’t necessary the way it once was.
Anyway, I put it up for sale. Then I got contacted almost immediately. The “buyer” (read: scammer) was ready to pay full price, site unseen. That was a little odd. He also wanted to ship it. That was also a little odd. On the other hand, he had a California area code. It made sense to me – at least in theory – that he might want to pick up the bike inexpensively in Alabama, ship it out to California, and turn a profit. He offered to overnight a cashier’s check, so that seemed pretty safe.
Then things got really weird. First, it took days for him to finally get the check out to me. He kept harassing me any time I took more than two minutes to respond to a text message. And then he told me the check would be for double this list price of the bike, and I should pass the cash back to the shipper who would pick up the bike.
That’s when my Spidey Sense went into full overdrive.
Rather than depositing it, I took the check into my bank this morning. Thanks to business accounts, I have a good personal relationship with my banker. She actually called the host bank that the check was written on. They confirmed that it was absolutely a bad check.
In case anyone hasn’t followed it, the scam is this: “purchase” an item with a check for an amount far larger than the original price. Get the difference back in cash, and get the purchased item. Then clear out before the check bounces, leaving the seller on the hook for the cash and without the item.
In my own case no harm was done. I wasted some time messaging this guy and sitting in the bank. But anyone who uses sites like this should always be alert for a scam. Pay attention and you’ll usually see the signs easily enough to avoid becoming a victim yourself.