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?

16 thoughts on “Seller Beware: Popular Craigslist Scam

  1. Pingback: Latest Blogs on Scam (07/15/09)

  2. hi im writing to you because this same exact thing is happening to me right now too. I got the same story and i received the same money orders with the same signature. I wanted to know if your uncle took any actions about this or if he just let it go. Please get back to me.

    • I’m not sure if my uncle took any measures against this scam – luckily he realized in time that he was dealing with a scammer, so he didn’t end up losing any money. I hope you found out about the scam in time as well! The best we can do is warn others not to be duped again.

  3. My name was used in these but I have never kived in Denver or recieved any of these MO, My info was pulled from the internet, so easy for anyones name and address to be used for anything.

  4. The same thing just happened to me! I just got scammed by this guy that supposedly “bought” something from me from craigslist. Thanks SO much for this webpage because I got a weird looking money order just like this and was told I couldn’t cash it. I didn’t understand it until I found this website. I got the same emails from saying the same exact thing and the money order looked just like that! Thanks so much for sharing this! Now I finally know about this craigslist scam crap.

  5. I am currently in the process of selling a Bike…knew all the while it was a scam. Collecting all data and am going to the sheriff of my town. The man who contacted me is named Daniel Smith and he wants me to send money for shipping of my bike to Susan Chavarry after I deduct the money for the bike. I am currently waiting for a check or whatever sent to me, apparently by Fed Express. He used the same e mail information as posted in this site.
    He must think everyone was born yesterday.

  6. Craigslist BEWARE. I do NOT do ANY business on Craigslist, so if u get an offer for any business from craigslist, contact me. It is a SCAM. Just had a lady call and verify some info. Someone wanted her to send a check to my “so called, Moving company” . I told her it is a SCAM. I do not have a moving company.

  7. wow , over a pair of little girl skates, what a sick person…look at this responce to me when I where do I send your money …..

    Thanks for your reply, kindly deduct $145 as your payment, and have the rest of the money sent via western union to the moving company.Here is the information.
    Receiver’s Full Name : Susan Chavarry.
    City : Colorado Springs.
    State : CO.
    Zip code : 80997.

    You will have to take cash to any western union location around where you stay and have it sent. Deduct the western union charges from the money you are sending to the movers.Get back to me with the following info on the western union receipt..

    Money Transfer Control Number (secrete number)
    Exact amount sent after deducting charges,
    Senders name and address.

    I expect you to complete this transaction asap so that you can fix a specific date for the pickup.Hope to hear from you soon.


    Here are some western union locations close to your address

    1612 E Main St
    Grand Prairie, Texas 75050

  8. I just got a scam from craigslist as well… i have in my hands a pair of moneygrams of $945.00 each one… i know they are fake because the heat activated circle doesn’t change colors. beware of a customer named

    Melissa Brown
    3 watt ave,
    Sacramento CA 95864

  9. Same here I got 2 orders for $962 each when I was only asking $300 for what I was selling on craigslist the lady at the 1 store looked at them said yes they’re real.she just didn’t have funds them I tried walmart the lady called moneygram they instantly told her they were counterfeit 😦

  10. He is still at it because it happened to me yesterday.This morning I woke up with a weird feeling and googled him and found all this.I thank you so much for saving me from a big nightmare.

  11. This is also happening to me! I had a post on craigslist selling an antique marble and onyxx chess set for $200. I recieved a text from “David” asking if it was in good condition etc, blah blah blah and asked to take the post down and he would pay $50 extra for holding it for him until I get his money order. He says his assistant accidentally mailed the wrong Transaction and to wire him the rest of the balance via western union and to contact him asap when I receive the payment so he can let me know what to do next. I didn’t get a last name to which I’ve learned wouldn’t be his real name anyway. I just received an international money order for $975. A few things off the top made me suspicious it was fake. 1. Misspelling of PHOENIX, the address on the MO is from 53rd Drive, Phonix AZ 85043. #2. The writing where the purchaser signs looks like its been printed off and is signed Brande something I cant make out the last name. #3 the heat activated circle does not change colors. And the USPS envelope I received the money order in came from a Craig White
    A.G Edwards INC
    4618 W. Posey st. Santa Ana, CA 92704.
    I googled the address and it’s not a business. It’s a house, and its for sale.
    Has anyone else heard of these names or addresses and have any more information??

    This should not be something these scammers keep getting away with!!
    Why do they not get in trouble for fraud!

  12. Hey I’m having the same thing also. I knew something was wrong but I’d wait just to see. I got the money grams for $988.50 to them. All $420 item on craigslist. The name on it was John samuol? and it was 125 Swatara Dr., Jonestown, PA 17038. That was the address on the money gram money order.The number that he was using is 717-964-8685. I watched a thing on YouTube about money gram scam and the lady said just throw them away not enough you won’t go to FBI there’s nothing really they can do. Is which is crazy there should be something you can do to stop this. But but they said the same thing about the secretary sent the wrong amount no there is no such thing as a wrong amount on this anyways not on to check supposedly that you have to have the money to start off with. Just people please be careful

  13. my wife recently got scammed like this but they had my wife send the money to a bank account at bank of america once our bank called us and told us it was a fake money order 4 days after the bank had cleared it and gave us the money so the bank took money out of our account to recoup their loss wich i dont think is fair 4 days after they cleared it that aint fair so we called the police and bank of america they put a hold on the account number we gave them but they confimed to the police the money was gone and the account was empty and thats as far as it will go banks will not give any info on an account holder unless you have the real name of the account holder and since the name my wife was given was not the name linked to the account they will not cooperate at all you need a subpoena and you can not get one with out a real name so we got screwed even though i believe the bank screwed up they should have never cleared it and then 4 days after the fact they say it is no good this person knows the law they knew everything they needed to to know we wouldnt be able to do anything to find them please people be carefull me and my wife barely make ends mee we have 4 children and got screwer 3 thousand dollars thats all we had and now are kids are going to pay cause we dont know what we are going to do for christmas please dont let this happen to you

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