Ever sell something on Craigslist? Sure, it’s free and you can deal with someone locally, IF you can ever successfully connect with someone who’s not a weirdo offering to trade your cherished ’81 Dodge Dynasty with genuine faux leopard skin seat covers and stereo 8-track player for some magic beans and belly-button lint.
Then there are the scammers. Post virtually anything on Craigslist and you’re guaranteed to hear from a group of them roughly the size of the population of Sri Lanka. These folks may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you’ve got to admire their dedication.
Awhile back, I had a van for sale. One of the ways I advertised it was on good ol’ Craigslist. I immediately began receiving a torrent of e-mails from scammers, that I would just ignore and delete.
One of the most popular scams involves the “buyer” (scammer) agreeing to have their “pickup agent” come and get whatever the thing is you’re selling and ship to them or their uncle/dad/brother who’s a marine biologist/oilfield worker/yak proctologist working overseas somewhere. In return, they will pay you with either a cashier’s check that turns out to be phony, or in my case, PayPal. PayPal might seem like a safe way to go, but here’s how it works: https://
It was this kind of scam that “Jessica” was attempting to pull on me. On this particular day I was bored, so I thought I’d have a little fun.
Here’s the e-mail from “Jessica”:
“Just viewed your listing and will like to purchase it .please what is the condition and more detail of it. Cheers.”
Uh-huh. Since it’s referred to generically as a “listing” rather than a van, and the details and condition are plainly stated in the ad, it’s an obvious scam. I google around and find a link to the exact same letter from the exact same e-mail address as “Jessica”. So I respond thusly:
All the info you need is here: http://forums.overclockers.co.
Google is your friend.
Soon after, I get this reply from “Jessica”:
“Thanks for the swift reply, i want you to get back to me with more picture and what is the present condition of it.Am satisfied with your advert price, i am buying this for my dad as a gift.and i want honest in this and straight forward deal . as am requesting this transaction should be done via PayPal so the PayPal charges is on me, If my offer is accepted send me your PayPal email and your name including your phone# or send me money request so I can pay you right away.I am busy at work and do not have much time around me, but no worries as i am willing to handle the picked of this merchandise through my legitimate mover agent cause i will like it to be picked at your residence location,Make sure you get back to me immediately,thanks”
This tells me two things: 1) “Jessica” didn’t read my e-mail, and 2) “Jessica” also posseses the intellect of lunch meat. I didn’t have anything better to do, so I thought eh… why not play ball with him/her a bit?
Let’s see… where to start. The vehicle is in generally good condition with minor rust on the body, as stated in the ad. I’m also including at no extra charge, the steering wheel. (not pictured in the ad.)
Fuel economy is not an issue with this vehicle, as there are two holes in the floor directly in front of the driver’s seat where you insert your legs to power the vehicle. (Pro-tip: Wear good shoes while driving.) The other passenger areas are also equipped with leg-power-holes, so if you need to go uphill, you’ll want to car-pool.
If you are still interested in purchasing the vehicle, let me know and I will forward my personal information to you so we can get the ball rolling.
Whaddya know! I just received yet another e-mail from my good friend “Jessica”:
“yes..kindly send me the email that link to your PayPal account and let me know the total cost of it so when i transfer the money to your account …paypal will send you a confirmation and as soon as you received it kindly let me know and after the pick up representatives can schedule time and day for the pick up.”
She sounds mighty keen to close the deal! Let’s see how far I can take this… My response:
Please accept my sincere apologies for taking so long to respond. I was resting after a busy day at work at my Pizza-In-A-Cup™ stand.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t be selling my beloved van except I am desperate to raise money for my wife. She needs an operation. Several months ago, she was baking a souffle, and something went horribly wrong. The souffle exploded, and a piece of the shrapnel became lodged in her uvula. It was touch and go for awhile, but thanks to lots of prayer (Praise be to Cthulhu!) and her amazing doctors, they were able to save her… But tragically, she lost over 90 percent use of her uvula. The doctors are hopeful that they can fit her with a prosthetic, and perhaps months of physical and psychological therapy will – Cthulhu willing – restore full use of her uvula once again.
That van holds a lot of fond memories for me. I hope you can assure me before I let it go to your dad that it will be loved and cherished just as I have done. I hope you understand that I cannot sell it unless you promise me it is going to a good home.
Once you have given me your solemn vow that the deal is on the level and that the van will be well taken care of, I will give you my PayPal address, and we may proceed.
A couple of hours later, I get this response:
“All that is required for me to have your money sent is just for you to get back to me with the email address and name that you linked with your paypal account. And the shipping company will be available to process/pick up the title during pick-up and after you must have received your money cash in hand. I can only feel secured sending my funds via paypal due to there various security measures at ensuring safe and secured transaction between buyer/seller. However, if you feel otherwise, I totally understand.”
UPDATE TIME!!! (The following morning)
I decided it was time to close the deal with “Jessica”:
Hello again, my succulent little flower.
After many hours of careful consideration and unholy supplication to Cthulhu, I am convinced of your veracity and I am prepared to give you the address of my PayPal. Here is the address:
9641 Sunset Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA
Carl is my very favorite pal of all, and the only pal I trust as my PayPal. I am confident he will make sure the money gets to me. He lives with his six brothers, all of whom are also named Carl Spackler.
Do not… I repeat DO NOT give the money to any other Carl Spackler that may reside at that address. The other Carl Spacklers are not my pals, and are thereby not authorized to act as my PayPal. Giving payment to any other Carl Spackler other than my authorized PayPal will result in immediate termination of our agreement, and will likely result in the wrath of Cthulhu to rain down on you. To help avoid confusion, I am enclosing a photo to help you identify the correct Carl Spackler.
This is my PayPal, Carl Spackler:
I await payment. Until then, may Cthulhu pat your head gently with his tentacle of destiny.
Haven’t gotten a response from Jessica. Guess she changed her mind. Bummer.