This weekend I decided to put my Canon 5D up for sale, so I naturally placed it on Craiglist. We sell almost everything now on Craigslist, as Ebay isn’t worth the effort. People are much cheaper on EBay and the few items I have tried to sell there didn’t sell. I was in no huge hurry to sell it, so I put it up at a rather high price.
Within a day we receive an e-mail from a woman in Minnesota. She explains that she is very busy but would like to buy the camera. She does not try to negotiate the price down. She also asks if we have a Paypal account to organize payment.
I’m slightly skeptical, but agree to it. I do a search on the individual and find that there is someone by that name who lives in Minnesota – though I could find no reference of her photographic work. Still, Paypal is generally trustworthy – so I agreed. We also offer to include the shipping in the cost.
The next day we receive an e-mail that ‘the person who the camera is for has left town’. The person is now in Malaysia. The woman apologizes for this and offers to pay the full shipping costs to Malyasia, plus the 3% Paypal fee. This immediately sounds fishy, so I do some investigation.
I find out that there are a number of Paypal scams (many of which occur with addresses to Malaysia) where they send you a fake e-mail saying the money was deposited in your Paypal account. You then send them the item and they get it for free – as the money was never deposited.
There were other things fishy about the e-mails as well.
- She (though most likely a ‘he’) went into detail about her business and how busy she is. Most buyers send very short e-mails.
- She never mentions the item by name, calling it “the item”.
- She never negotiated on the price
- The name in Malaysia was not a Malay name but an English one
Curious to have some fun, I said – “sure, send the money”. In the meantime I sold the camera to someone else. Sure enough, the next day I receive a fake e-mail stating that the money is in my account. I forward the mail to Yahoo’s phishing department.
So beware this scam in case you run into it. Craigslist and Paypal are both reputable companies, but like anywhere skepticism and caution are good traits to have.
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