Thursday, Sep 27, 2012









Wham, scam, thank you, Ma’am
By MAG RUFFMAN, Special to QMI Agency




A great de-cluttering solution is to post large items for sale (or free with pick-up) on local Internet listing services like Craigslist or Kijiji.

You only need to sign up for a free account based on your locality, write a description of your item, upload a photo and hit “post.” Then wait for bites.

Or get bitten.

A transaction can start off looking legitimate, but before you know it, you’re out hundreds of dollars.

I know how easy it is to snag a scammer, because I’ve got one on the hook right now. Recently I listed a spare workbench on Craigslist for $400. A couple of days later I got some interest from wallymore47@gmail.com. This is how it unfolded.

Hello,
I would like to know if this is still available for sale.
Thanks.

I responded that it was.

Then wallymore47 started his confidence-building moves.

Hello,
Thanks for the prompt response and i will love to make an instant purchase, so please do withdraw the advert from Craigslist, i don’t mind adding an extra $50 for you to take the advert down from craigslist so that i can be rest assured that am in hand of the items. I will also like you to know that i will be paying via bank check, and it will be over night payment due to the distance. You don't need to bother your self with the shipment ok, i will take care of that, so I will need you to provide me with the following information to facilitate the mailing of the check.
1. Your full name.
2. Your mailing address be it residential or postal address.
3. Your phone-number.
I assure you once again i will take care of shipping.
Have a nice day.

He seemed a little overeager and, judging by the odd syntax and spelling goofs, possibly under-educated. But we woodworkers are an eccentric group, so I concluded that he must really want the bench. I removed the listing and sent him my particulars.

He replied:

Thank you for your reply, your payment should be ready for the mail asap, do get back to me as soon as you have the payment delivered to you. You tell me the best time for the mover to come over for the pickup? after you might have cashed the check.
Thank you
Regards,
Wally Moore

So I waited. After two weeks I hadn't received a cheque or heard from Wally. I e-mailed asking if he was still interested in the bench, and if not, no worries, I'd re-list it.

Wally got back to me two days later. (Making a seller wait is part of the baiting process.)

Hello Mag How are you doing? I want you to understand that the deal is on. My secretary has posted the payment already, but there was a slight error i guess we can handle with care, instead of the actual amount for the item, she made out the check for $2980 she claimed that was what i requested but she didn't get that straight. So once you have the check please cash it and deduct the money for the item plus $20 that for your running around expenses. The excess fund should please be sent to my mover via western union, this fund will be use in offsetting the cost of the shipment he as 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**
Sir Moore

Oh, it’s “Sir Moore” now?

Fortunately, my scammy-sense finally kicked in full-bore. I consulted with my neighbours, Louise and Fred, who'd had a similar “buyer” when they were selling a camper-trailer.

"When we finally got our cheque,” says Louise, “it was for $1,200 – and we'd asked only $400 for the trailer. The buyer wanted us to send the excess to his broker at a British address. Well, we were not going to get involved in any of that stuff. We did take the money order to the bank to check it out. It had the right transit numbers on it and everything, so the teller said, 'It looks good. Let me check with my manager.' The manager called the issuing bank, and that bank said ‘No! Don't cash it!’”

Lousie and Fred went straight to the local police station. “The police kept all of the documentation. That night, the police officer came to our place to give us back the documents and said, ‘You weren't gone 10 minutes when someone else came in with another bogus money order.’”

Louise and Fred, who are in their sixties, felt lucky that they had avoided being suckered in. "Older people are truly gullible because we were raised in a more trusting, cooperative and helpful era. Our ‘buyer’ was stalling between each communication, trying to hook us in. He kept giving more information, a little at a time, building trust. If we had cashed that money order and sent him his refund, we would have been out all of that money – you're liable for the full amount of the counterfeit cheque."

The RCMP told Louise and Fred to e-mail their buyer and say that they were onto him. They never heard from him again.

I'm going to e-mail my buyer, too. But I’m not going to tell him I’m onto him. I'll just say "Hey, look, Sir Moore, you're famous." And give him the link to this article.

More info about scams on Craigslist.

Mag Ruffman appears weekdays on Real Life on CTS. Visit her online at ToolGirl.com.

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