My wife and I bought a swim spa in 2013, and after finally learning what all the dials were for, we began using it daily. We loved it, all except the getting in and out! We tried a small step stool, cinder blocks, and finally ordered “proper” mahogany steps from the spa maker because we wanted to be safe. Eventually, we added a deck and the stairs became redundant, so we decided to put them up for sale at Craigslist. That’s when we met the scammers.
I first got an email, and here it is verbatim: “I’M OK with the price and the description stated so I would like to send payment asap. Please let me know if a Us Certified Check OR Cashiers Check is OK. After the check clears my Mover will come and pick it up at your location.I would have come and take a look of it but I can’t anymore am not available at this moment,Due to my work reschedule.(on a business trips). If you can get back to me with your mailing info.I’ll mail the check out asap through UPS Service.So your Full Name to write on the Check, Full Postal Address Apt # suite #,Not a P.O Box address, a firm price,with your cell phone number to reach you,so that i can mail the check out asap.”
I asked a friend about this — he happens to be something of an expert on Internet technology and often sells things online — because I thought it sounded fishy, if only because of the poor grammar. He identified it immediately as a scam. “They send a seemingly real check for more than your asking price and then ask you to refund part of the difference to some fake moving company by wiring the funds to them,” he explained. “The original check is fake and eventually bounces.”
Sure enough, the next email from the scammer told me: “my sectary will issue the payment to you ,because am now out of the state for business trip.You will receive the payment from UPS with the shipping funds. to cover the shipment of the goods bought. Once you receive the check have it cashed and deduct your money for the goods and send the remaining funds to my mover My mover is also picking some of other valuable goods … at the same city of your location … that is why you need to transfer the amount to my mover. … Please let me know if i can trust you … . ”
The next scam email read: “Thanks so much for your trustworthiness … The check has sent out to you and should be delivered this week, once you have it,kindly proceed to your bank and have it deposit and do let me know as soon as you have it deposited, so that i can instruct you on how to send the rest balance left to the mover and once the movers did received the funds they will contact you to set-up the pick up time to pick up the stuff.Regards.”
Shortly afterward, I received a UPS Next Day Air envelope, and inside was a cashier’s check made out to me for $1,775.00. We had sold the stairs for $225. The next day, the scammer wrote: “Hey … why did you keep silent??The payment has been delivered to you … please let me know the status of the transaction and the best time the rest funds will be send to the movers through Western Union money transfer.so that the mover can be able to received the shipping funds and come over for the pick-up at your location around 1:30pm today,also email me with your Map_quest for easy way for the shipper to get to your location.”
I’ll take my time replying, but when I do, it will be along the lines of: “You asked me if you could trust me. You certainly can! I’ve contacted Craigslist, email@example.com, the Federal Trade Commission, and the local media about your scam. Have a nice day. PS: And thanks for the check — my bank has turned it over to their fraud division.”