Seller Beware: Popular Craigslist Scam

We all know that you need to be careful using social media. After last week’s announcement that was used as part of a big phishing and identity theft scam (see articles: 60 Million Stung in Social Networking Rip-off and Will Spam Your Friends and Family), it’s probably time for a reminder to be always use caution and be smart when using social media.

An rule of thumb when trying to figure out if you’re falling for a social media scam, is to ask yourself, “Would this be normal in real life?” For example, if you get a Facebook message from your stern but very articulate co-worker that says “Check out these pics heehe <link here> ;)” it probably is NOT something you should click on!

A prime example – my uncle almost got scammed from a Craigslist user last week. My uncle was selling a mattress for $300 and found a buyer who agreed to sending money via MoneyGram. The buyer sent a money order worth $1700 (with the excuse “My partner somehow overpaid you”), told my uncle to deposit the money order and then send back the remaining $1400 that they had overpaid.  Sound fishy? That’s because it is.

Here’s an excerpt from some of the conversations my uncle had with the buyer. Note: All are from the buyer, to my uncle.


How are you doing,i hope you are fine and alright.I have been busy myself but doing great.There is something i think i must bring to your notice.After a reconciliation of my account,i discovered that somehow my partner must have over paid you.The payment that was meant for another transaction was sent to you and the one meant for you was sent to another,however i want to believe i wont have a problem with you.

Please once you receive your payment,i will like you to deduct your money and send the remaining via moneygram to the manager of the shipping company that will help me with the pickup.I will provide the info you need to complete the moneygram transfer once you receive payment.Thanks once again for your understanding.

Warm regards.


After you’ve deducted your item cost you are to send teh remaining balance to the mover’s…..Keep me posted.

Morning, How are you doing?Sorry i get back to you this late have been very busy.Am happy to let you know that the payment will be deliver to you today by a ups delivery guy.The tracking # for your payment is (1Z235T732596208661) you can check the tracking # @ to confirm the exact time it will be deliver to you.

Immediately you receive the payment this morning i want you to take the payment to your bank and have it cashed,you will deduct your item cost and send the remaining balance to the mover’s who will be coming for the pickup at your address.

I got in touch with the moving company concerning pickup and they told me to get words with you as to know when you will be available for them to effect pickup after they have receive their fund.They gave me their information that will enable the fund gets to them via MoneyGram Tranfer and below is the information of the Account Manager where you will send the funds to after you have received the payment.Use part of the remaining balance to pay for the MoneyGram Transfer fee.

Receiver’s Full Name : Susan Chavarry.

City : Denver.

State : Colorado.

Zipcode : 80274.

Country : United States.

After making the payment,you will have to send me the following informations about the transfer so that i can forward it to them.

Money Tranfer Reference Number:
Senders Name and Address:
Total Amount you send:

I will wait to hear from you upon receipt of this email.I want the item to be pickup on before saturday.

Expecting to hear from you soon.


just want to update you that the payment has been delivered to your resident. As soon as you received it, kindly take it to your bank and cash.Once the payment as been cashed, deduct your item cost price plus the $30 for holding and send the remaining balance to the shipping company via MoneyGram Transfer to the information i emailed you earlier, deduct the MoneyGram charges on the remaining money you are sending. Hope to hear from you as soon as possible.

Have a pleasant day!

Something that immediately stands out as suspicious to me is the large amount of typos in the emails (I’ve noticed a lot of spam emails tend to do this), but the “buyer” also includes an actual name and city/state, which makes it seem genuine. Here’s a look at the actual money order checks my uncle received. They look good — good enough to fool a bank at first glance too.

craigslist money order

Luckily my uncle realized in time that this was a SCAM. Scammers send fake money orders worth more than the product, then ask the person to send the change back. Banks often will deposit the money orders at first, so you think they are real, and it is only after you send the “buyer” the money (in this case $1400) that the bank processes the money orders and realizes they are fake — penalizing you AND you’ve already lost the money you’ve sent to the “buyer.”

Craiglist is aware of this scam and even warns its users AGAINST taking money orders. See  #4 on its list of popular scams.

Again, please be careful when using social media. Don’t click on unsuspicious links, and be wary of deals that sound too good when using shopping sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.  Do you have any scams or near-misses to share?

Business Cards 2.0: Contxts

A coworker passed this along this week, and I was really impressed by how this free service looks. Disclaimer: I have NOT tried this service out.

Contxts is a free, text messaging business card service. The service allows you to text people you meet a virtual, text message business card. By doing this ou are automatically added to their online contact list AND if they have a pre-existing profile through Contxts, you’ll be connected on their social networking site.

Why do this? Who cares when everyone has business cards anyway? I can think of a few reasons – it’s relatively easy, you only need a cell phone and text messaging capabilities, it’s more permanent than a business card, etc. The site also offers a few reasons:

We all know the scenario, you meet someone (man, woman, clown) at a gathering of professionals (conference, party, Bar Mitzvah) and all goes well. You reach for your left shirt pocket which is where you keep your business cards. Oh no! You’re all out…

Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Ok so maybe that scenario didn’t pique your interest, let’s try another. You just got back from your gathering of professionals and you want to connect with all of the people that you met. So you pull out your stack of cards and you go through your social network of choice searching for each one by one. Why?

It seems easy to use, so I’m surprised I haven’t heard of it before. Simply register your phone number and username with Contxts, then customize the information you’ll want shared via text message. A la Twitter, you have 140 characters to fit your basic information, and you can add your other social network contacts for visitors to Contxts’s web site who want more info. When you meet someone you want to share your contact info with, simply have them text your username to 50500, or you can your friend’s number to Contxts from your registered phone. In return, your new acquaintance will receive all your info that you’ve set up with Contxts, and you don’t have to worry about carrying around business cards or killing trees.

Have you tried this out? Has anyone heard of this service? I’m surprised I hadn’t heard anything about it before this week — it looks great!

UPDATE: Just found this old article about the service on Lifehacker. Check it out here. Looks like the service hasn’t changed since then.