Here come the craig’s list scams again…


Craig’s list is a great place to advertise an apartment for rent — it seems like the only place that a lot of people look. However, each year that I’ve advertised there, I get at least one bite from a scammer. Here’s this year’s version:

Hello,
In responce to your Apartment for rent. My company is posting me to on an official assignment in this MONTH.I will like to rent your Home for the period i will be staying. Pls do give me the following information.
1.A brief discription of the Home
2.Monthly rent and deposit
3.The address of the Home
4.Pictures of the interior areas of the house
I will be staying in the Apartment for a year pls do send the total charges for this period and the initial deposit required of me to pay before moving in. Pls do let me know if you will accept check as payment.I will be waiting for your responce on this.Hope to hear from you in earnest.
Alexander Lee.

First of all, Alexander’s questions about the monthly rent and deposit, description of the home, and pictures of the interior areas of the house are all answered sufficiently in the ad itself. So the message is immediately suspicious. I knew it was a scam of some kind, but wasn’t really sure how exactly this person intended to scam me.

I showed it to a friend, and he quickly found some relevant information about scammers on the Craig’s list site:

distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier’s check

* you receive an email (examples below) offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment, sight unseen.
* cashier’s check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for just about anything else of value.
* value of cashier’s check often far exceeds your item – scammer offers to “trust” you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
* banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
* scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc)

So…. the scam would play out like this: I respond to this email, the scammer (“Alexander”) responds saying that he’ll take it, and his company is willing to pay a larger amount than the rent — if I’ll accept a check for more than the amount, and then give him half of the difference, we can both make some money off of this situation. I’ll think that this sounds fantastic, accept him as a tenant, and then he’ll pay me with a fake cashier’s check. I’ll cash the check, and then wire him his share of the overpayment. Only after I’ve wired the money, though, will I find out from the bank that the check didn’t clear. Then, the scammer will have made off with the money that I wired to him, and I’ll be stuck dealing with the responsibility for the fraudulent check (and a still-empty apartment).

I find this sort of thing interesting — it must sometimes work, otherwise these sorts of scammer emails wouldn’t be so prevalent.

Just for fun, here are some actual scams that Craig’s list has posted on their site, for educational purposes:

Hello ,
Thanks for your mail back concerning the inquiry mail i sent to you.
The price,condition also the pics i viewed is okay by me .And my client
confirm there is no problem about the price($975 ) ,my client do pays with
a {USA}cashier check,he has agreed to mail out as bank cashiers check of
$3500. to you on my behalf to cover the shippment fees.About the shippment,
that we be taken care by my me & my personal assistant,my personal assistant
will be using his shipper to do the quick processing of the shipping of
the(1987 Toyota Celica) to my client.
So all you are to do after you will received the check in your mail,
Just take out your sale amount and refer the remaining money to my shipper
immediately through the westernunion or the money gramm outlet so to get the
money fast and start the fast arrangement for the pickup of the
(1987 Toyota Celica).Since you are the original owner of this item,and i
am buying the item directly from you i will like you to write your full name
to be on the check,with the mailing address which my client will be using
to issued out the check to you.I do wish to trust you by refering the rest
balance back to my shipper and also your fast doing to this transaction.
I will like to hear fromyou if this is okay by you and you are ready to
process ,if you aready to sale your item and promise refering the rest
balance to my shipper immediately you received the check so can start the
quick arrangement for the pickup. Any body that want to buy this item
this item just tell therm that it as been sold. I will like to copmplete
this transaction befor the new year. I be at my computer waiting to see
your epky to my payment method mailed.
THANKS AND MAIL ME BACK WITH YOUR DETAIL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

##########

> Thanks for getting back to me,i will be
>purchasing the motorbike Like i said earlier i am based in the
>netherlands(holland).there won’t be any probs about the shipment,after
>payment ,the pick up will be made at your place. i have made arrangements
>with the prepaid shipping company. As regards payment,this is what i am
>going to do;I have a client in ENGLAND who is owing me 5800POUNDS i would
>instruct him to make out a money order/certifiedcheck to you in that
>amount and as soon as it clears your bank. you can now deduct your money
>from it and send me my balance,i will using use part of the money to pay
>for the shipping and other expenses .you will then send my balance by via
>western union money transfer.Although the value of the check is more than
>the asking price but i think i should be able to trust you with my
>balance. The reason why i am doing this is that it would take a check
>sent from over here in HOLLAND 21days to clearover there,whereas a check
>sent from the US would clear tops within 48hrs. So i would like you to
>deduct the western union charges from my balance.So if my terms are
>acceptableto you,i would like you to give me your fullname,address and
>phone number so that i can instruct my client to make out the check to
>you. Pls get back to me as soon as you get this mail so that we can
>round things up in a timely fashion..i willbe trusting in this business
>transaction.

###########

> Good day
> i am an auto dealer based in TAIWAN,i am interested in buying your
> ( 1989 Jetta GL 4 door )I will like to know if you would accept
> acertified cashier check for the payment of the,i also need to
> know the price and your full name and address including your
> phone is also needed in which payment will be sent to . i have a
> shipping company who takes cares of my shippment .So don’t bother
> about the shippment.I will also like to know if is still in good
> condition and
> shape.urgent response is needed for procedure of payment of the (
> 1989 Jetta GL 4 door )
> REGARD

#############

> Thanks for your mail,Since the cost of your bike is $800 i just contacted
my client about the cost of your bike and it present condition and he said
there is no problem about that.So my client said he will be issuing you a
Certified Check of $4000 while you wire 3000 to me through Western Union
Money Trasfer and you deduct the cost of your bike $800 and keep the
remaining $200 which my client said you should take for the terms of
Transaction and Agreement between you and my client.So i will like you to
send me your full contact information to where my client will be sending you
> the Certified Check like this:
> name………
> full address………….
> city……………
> state………….
> country……….
> zipcode…………
> cell/office/home phone number…………………..
> I will look forward to the requested information as soon as possible so
that the check can be sent out to you immediately And do get back to me
with the Pics of the bike so tha! t my client will be Able to see What he
is paying off.Get back to me immediately. Looking torwards your
> respond,
> Best Regards.

###########

Good day
i am an auto dealer based in TAIWAN,i am interested in buying your
( Comic book collection – 500 comics )I will like to know if you
would accept acertified cashier check for the payment of the,i also
need to knowthe price and your full name and address including your phone
is alsoneeded in which payment will be sent to . i have a shipping
company who takes cares of my shippment .So don’t bother about the
shippment.I will also like to know if is still in good condition
and shape.urgent response is needed for procedure of payment of the (
Comic book collection – 500 comics )
REGARD


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3 thoughts on “Here come the craig’s list scams again…

  1. Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson

  2. Nice write up! I actually bought a duplex myself a bit over a year ago. I just discovered your blog, and I love it!

    I got one of these craigs list scam mails when I put an ad up for my place as well. I knew what kind of scam it was so I played along. I wanted to get the check to see how good it was. It was a fake cashiers check like you said. Drawn off a Maryland bank! of course it has a noticeable correction for the spelling of “Hundred”… but oh well.

    These scams do work very well. The reason is time. A cashiers check drawn off an out of state bank, like the one I received, would likely take about 4 months to be “found out”.

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