Skepticism

A Scammer Tries to Buy My Couch

On October 1, I listed my sofa on Craigslist. I immediately received a text message asking me to email the person back if the sofa was still available. I did. As soon as she responded I knew that this was the scam where a “buyer” sends a bad check for more than the cost of the item they’re buying. They ask you to deposit the check and then wire them (or in this case a mover) the extra cash. They get the cash by the time you realize their check bounced. So, I didn’t actually bother even checking my PO Box, let alone depositing the check. I just moved away, but every now and again decided to poke “Linda,” thinking that every minute “she” wastes with me is one less minute to spend on someone more gullible. Here is our conversation:

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 1
to Lindapickard282

Hi Linda,

Yes, the sofa is still available. Let me know if you’d like to come check it out!

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 1
to me

Thanks for the prompt response to my mail. I will be buying this from you, so please kindly withdraw the advert from C.LIST. My husband will be overnighting the payment asap but he will be paying with a certified check from his Bank and it will deliver to you via United Parcel Service (UPS), so I’ll need you to provide me with the following information to facilitate the mailing of the check… And am offering additional $50 with the original price to have this asap.

Name to be on the payment………..
Address to mail the check to………….
Last price……………….
Cell phone # to contact you …………….

I will make arrangements for the pick up as soon as you have your check clear, due to my work frame and my Kids, I will not be able to come with the cash and pick it up so my husband will mail the check and have someone pick up the item after the check clear., Reference to your CL post am completely satisfied with it and the payment will be deliver within 24hours.. God Bless

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 1
to Linda

Great! Here’s all the info:

Name: Rebecca Watson
Address:
(my now-defunct PO Box)
Price: $400
Cell phone: (my Google voice number)

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 1
to me

I got the Details to mail the check and the payment will be sent out asap and get back to you when it is mailed, Please keep the other buyer off and the item will be pick up from you after you have the payment.
Thanks and God bless

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 1
to Linda

Great. I can’t wait to get this absolutely real check and cash it and spend the money!

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 9
to me

Good Morning,
I just contact USPS now and they said you should be getting the check this Morning and Like I said my husband sent the check to you including the (freight and hand ling’s fees) to pick up the item from you and some other items around your location

You are to get the check, have it deposited into your Account or through ATM asap. Deduct your $450 as agreed for yourself and have the rest balance send via Western Union Minutes Transfer as requested by the mover so that they can contact you for the pick up arrangement and then be at your location to pick up the item from you .

You can locate any Western Union location around you and have the rest balance transfer to the below mover agent information via Western Union Minutes Transfer: Deduct the minutes transfer fees from the rest money you are sending to the mover

Name: Jamaal Griffin
Address: 300 East Blvd
City: Charlotte
State: NC
Zip Code: 2820

Please do take care of everything asap so that the mover can contact you for the pick up arrangement . And as soon as you are done with the transfer, You will be given a receipt so get back to me with the MTCN #, Sender name and the Exact Amount transfer after deducting the minutes transfer fees from the rest money you are sending to Jamaal Griffin

Thanks and God bless

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 13 (11 days ago)
to me

Hello
Am wondering why you have not get back to me as you promise since you have the payment already, Kindly give me an update about the status of the remaining money meat for the mover because this is my first time on the CL and am kinda worried, Pls i need to know if you have deposited the check and sent the movers funds to them as requested so as for the shipping agent to make the trip down to your place for the pick-up ASAP.
Regards.

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 20 (4 days ago)
to Linda

Hi Linda! Sorry for the delay….we have been moving, so things have been a bit crazy here! I went ahead and sent you the money. Let me know if you get it!

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 20 (4 days ago)
to me

Ok thanks and What is the Western Union Transfer details…MTCN # and the Exact amount transfer after deducting the Western Union minutes transfer fees from the rest money sending. The Mover will contact you as soon as they confirm the money from the Western Union Transfer location before showing up at your location… God bless

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 21 (3 days ago)
to me

Kindly get back to me with the Details, Asap

+++

(sent to my Google voice number)

+12146122533 Add – Red Oak, TX
10/21/14 6:16 AM 3 days ago

+12146122533: Hello 6:16 AM
+12146122533: Good morning 6:16 AM
+12146122533: Are you there with me?? 6:16 AM

+++

+14124236188 Add – Oakmont, PA
10/21/14 10:17 AM 3 days ago

+14124236188: Hello, Are you there with me Rebecca ?? 2:35 AM
+14124236188: Good morning, Are you there? 7:54 AM
+14124236188: Hello, Are you there Rebecca? 10:17 AM

+++

+16102008209 Add – Philadelphia, PA
10/22/14 12:44 AM 2 days ago

+16102008209: Hello 12:44 AM

+++

+16108807881 Add – Avondale, PA
10/22/14 12:45 AM 2 days ago

+16108807881: HEllo 12:45 AM

+++

+16108946320 Add – Kutztown, PA
10/22/14 12:47 AM 2 days ago

+16108946320: Hello 12:47 AM

+++

+14124236188 Add – Oakmont, PA
10/22/14 12:49 AM 2 days ago

+14124236188: Hello Rebecca, is me Linda Pickard Kindly get back to me with the transfer details, MTCN# and the exact amout you send to him… hope to ead back from you ASAP 12:49 AM

+++

+12106606072 Add – San Antonio, TX
10/22/14 4:27 PM 42 hours ago

+12106606072: Hello 4:22 PM
+12106606072: You there with me?? 4:22 PM
+12106606072: Let me know if you are there with me 4:27 PM

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to Linda

Hi Linda, sorry for the delay! I’ve been traveling. I sorted through my receipts and I think the MTCN is 0009523 and the amount is $40.

Best,
Rebecca

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to me

This now seems to me that you want to run away with my hard earned money..My will have to involve the FBI and the local CIA on this because it seems you want to screw me.and you have refused complete the transaction as we agreed .. Note that all our conversation chain is been watched by the federal bureau..and besides,i have a cousin that works as a fraud investigator for FBI..I will be giving you 24hrs to get back with the status of the money because the check has been presented for collection here and you want to run away no way because it is dangerous and you will be arrested for trying to scam me.

Your information will be forwarded to the below office for further investigation.

Federal Bureau of Investigation – St. Louis
Attn: Internet Fraud Division
2222 Market Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2516

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to me

What is the MTCN # and the Exact amount transfer after deducting the Western Union minutes transfer fees from the rest money sending.??

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to Linda

Oh no! Linda, I’m so sorry. I gave you the MTCN and the amount! What else do you need?

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to me

Do you have the receipt with you? i mean the receipt you receive from western union
Kindly send me the picture of it

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to me

So that i can verify it

+++

Rebecca Watson
Oct 22 (2 days ago)
to Linda

I think I left it in my pocket and it went through the washer!!!

+++

Linda Pickard
Oct 23 (1 day ago)
to me

I dint get the money

+++

Rebecca Watson
11:37 AM (20 hours ago)
to Linda

Are you sure???

+++

Linda Pickard
12:07 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

Yes am here

+++

Rebecca Watson
12:11 PM (19 hours ago)
to Linda

Did you ask the FBI to look into the Western Union person? Perhaps they stole it!!

+++

Linda Pickard
12:14 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

I dint know anything about that, YOU ARE THE ONE TO FIND MY MONEY FOR ME

+++

Rebecca Watson
12:15 PM (19 hours ago)
to Linda

You’re absolutely right, I’m so sorry! I will call the FBI and let them know about the Western Union thief. Which Western Union office did you go to?

+++

Linda Pickard
12:18 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

YOU GIVE ME THE WRONG MTCN# AND MTCN IS TEN NUMBER NOT SIX

+++

Rebecca Watson
12:22 PM (19 hours ago)
to Linda

Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry! I must have mistyped. The MTCN is 0009523BS4U

+++

Linda Pickard
12:23 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

KINDLY GO BACK TO WHERE YOU SEND IT FROM AND REFUND THE MONEY AND GO TO ANOTHER WESTERN UNION STORE AND GET IT SEND THERE

+++

Linda Pickard
12:25 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

WHERE DO YOU GET THIS, THERE IS NO LETTER IN MTCN# IS NOW SEEM TO ME THAT YOU WANT TO SCAM ME

+++

Rebecca Watson
12:32 PM (19 hours ago)
to Linda

I’m so sorry! The numbers are all smudged from the receipt going through the wash. It must be this: 00095238540

+++

Linda Pickard
12:35 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

HOW MUCH DO YOU SEND TO HIM??

+++

Rebecca Watson
12:40 PM (19 hours ago)
to Linda

I think it was $40? Is that right?

+++

Linda Pickard
1:00 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

i SEND YOU $1956 AND YOU ARE TO DEDUCT YOUR $400 AND THE TRANSFER FEE OUT OF IT AND SEND THE REST TO THE PICKER SO I DING KNOW WHERE YOU SEE $40

+++

Rebecca Watson
2:41 PM (17 hours ago)
to Linda

Oh right I mean $400 not $40, sorry! LOL

+++

Rebecca Watson
8:05 AM (2 minutes ago)
to Linda

Linda, I haven’t heard back from you so I forwarded your information and Jamaal Griffin’s to the FBI so that they can investigate this further and find your money! I’m so sorry for the hassle!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

Related Articles

47 Comments

      1. My wife received a call from someone claiming to be with the CIA telling her she would be arrested the next day because of a warrant for her arrest in the Dominican Republic. She was supposed to stand by and talk to a judge who would arrange bail. She told them to come arrest her.

        I called the number back from work and after chatting, hung up. I received a call immediately back and I pointed out they were a scam and hung up. The lady called me back and said “Fuck you bitch”.

        The number originates in Delaware and checks out as a call bank.

  1. Is there, like, some kind of service that sends out form emails for pulling this scam? I ignore any text/email that says, “Is the item still available?” I may eliminate legitimate buyers but I also avoid that freaking annoying, “I will send you a check and my courier will pick it up please remove ad from CL” reply.

    1. Really? I frequently ask that (and people do reply to me), because half the time, it isn’t available, and they just haven’t taken down the ad yet. I’ll keep that in mind that some people consider that a sign of a scam.

      1. Whether or not it’s a sign of a scam, it’s FREAKING ANNOYING. “Yes, it’s available right now, but in the meantime, somebody might actually write back with something useful, like when they want to pick it up, and then I’ll make arrangements with them.”

        “If this is still available, I’m interested and can pick up Saturday 6pm, paying cold hard cash” is useful. “Is this still available?” isn’t.

  2. Clearly, Linda/Jamaal meant the local office of the Culinary Institute of America. They have traditionally dealt with Pampered Chef and Tupperware party disputes, but they are branching out into other home goods.

  3. Wow. For a scammer they are persistent. I had a run-in with a scammer once. I ignored them and after about a day or two they left me alone… but I did manage to get just enough info out of them to report them… :D

  4. Notice how they cleverly avoid referring to the couch as a couch or a sofa. They always say “the item”. I think this is due to a previous embarrassing mistake where they got their scams mixed up. Or maybe they are just following the advice in chapter 3 of the textbook for Internet Scamming 101, “Communicating with the Vic”.

    P.S. Looks like a nice couch. I hope it finds a nice home. Is the cat included? Is it still available? Please send my your payment details so I can overnight a cashiers check for 3 times the price. You can send me the difference via Western Union tomorrow, and I will have my cousin’s brother-in-law’s aunt’s neighbor pick the item up someday.

    1. I used to get that sometimes when I used the rideshare section.
      “I am very interested in purchasing this item!”
      “But I’m not selling anything. I was just just looking for a ride to the Bay Area on Tuesday.”
      “Yes, I am very interested in that!”
      But… it’s already Wednesday and I took the Greyhound…”

    1. Yes, USA is way behind the rest of the Western world in that respect.

      A recent survey (Allan Koehler, ABC Finance program) showed that Australians use on average 8 per annum – he was surprised it was so high.

      Personally, I only use 1 or 2. So 20th century!

  5. Greetings beloved

    I am the wife of the former head of government of Liberia and I have $37,000,002 to relocate from my country. Is the couch still for sale? I would like to buy this, and because I trust you I will send the cheque for $37,000,002 for you to place in your account. If you then wire me $8,000 so that I can get a passport and a flight to the US, it would please me very much that you and I share the remainder of the money and use it wisely to set-up an orpahange back in Liberia for the poor children who have lost parents to Ebola. They would really like a new leather couch.

    Please send me your address and bank details.

    Bless you in the name of Jesus.

    Mrs Charles Ghankay Taylor

  6. Yes, they are getting more sophisticated though.

    We had one in the form of a letter on a legal letterhead, written in faultless grammatical English and sent to my wife’s workplace.

    It was an inheritance scam where they offered to give us a large legacy from somebody overseas with the same surname, “in order to save time in searching further” for the true descendant.

    They asked for nothing EXCEPT for us to agree to accept the offer – that was the hook, you see, after which one would be reluctant to approach law enforcement because of having agreed to something dodgy and no doubt illegal.

    If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
    Cops? Not interested.

  7. These days I communicate with my landlady by text message and she recently sent her back account info to me – via text message – so I could set up a personal pay thing at the bank that will directly deposit the rent in her bank account. That was the last bill I paid by check. I have checks – banks give you a small number free these days – and I bought several books of deposit slips because my small employer doesn’t offer direct deposit (the CFO walks around and personally hands paychecks out every other Friday), but after a year I’ve used 5 checks, to pay various government offices and the rent one month.

  8. Cheques? Arent those are those quaint, old things my dad used to use before people invented magnetic plastic? I remember getting those from my grandma and I think I had a cheque book when I was 10, but I never used it.

    Cash and debit for everyday use, internet banking for online shopping and monthly payments.

    Aren’t you supposed to be ahead of everyone over there in the US?

  9. I wrote a book on Internet Crime. Unfortunately there is a scam within the scam. So please don’t do this people.

    The reason these messages keep coming is that back in Nigeria these scams are a big business that everyone has heard about people making big money from. This is just one twist on the advance fee fraud scam that goes back to the crusades (at least) where knights would be asking for help moving a ransom. The key thing is that the mark advances some money in the expectation of a much larger reward.

    The scams are so successful that they are franchised. For $5000 or so the gangs will sell people the mailing lists, mailers, etc to send out solicitations and they will help them launder any proceeds. And of course they will have photographers who can rent them the barrister’s robes etc. when they are proving who they really are. And all for a fee.

    Sound familiar? Its the advance fee fraud again just on the greedy idiots thinking they will make a fortune defrauding foreigners.

    So while it might be fun yanking these people’s chains, you might just be helping one of the gangs make money from them and keep the frauds going.

  10. Scammers will always be able to scam. One here in Pittsburgh area-senior citizen got call that grandson in accident in Peru of all places. She needed to wire money immediately. Guess she got so confused & scared, didn’t think to check with family-wired them $7,800. Part of me wants to feel sorry for her-part not because these stories are on the news constantly. And there are people who still fall for them.

  11. Someone tried this scam on my mother-in-law a few months ago. She was trying to sell her car on craigslist. Same exact scam, although when she received the money order, it wasn’t signed. She emailed the buyer ([email protected]), and the buyer told HER to sign the money order and cash it. M-i-l said no, she’d wait for a proper check. The mover’s address was also in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hmmm.

  12. Living here in NYC, I camee upon a lot of scammy craigslist people. Always insanely skeptical of the post that end with ” god bless” and they’re just saving enough to go on a mission, or whatever shit, that sounds too good to be true, and pushing the honest Christian card. Craigslist is not about trusting, anyone…. Fair exchange, whether it’s goods, services, money, what ever, but taking someone fir their good word is not part of it.

  13. In my country they have this method when you want to sell something (they usually do this with people who want to sell expensive stuff like properties or cars)
    so they call you and they say they live far away, they say that they are foreigners (this only make sense later)
    They tell you they’re on their way to your location(remember they live far?), to close the business, then some time later they call you and tell you that their car had a problem and they called a tow to take the car to the nearest workshop.
    Later again, they call you again asking for you to send them some money throgh e-cash (it’s a system where you can send an amount from you cellphone to theirs or from a Western Union to their cellphone) anyway, they tell you that they don’t have cash because they were going to come to your city and clear a check, but they don’t have any cash and they tell you that the workshop man doesn’t understand him (that’s when being foreigner come in handy)
    So he hands the cellphone to another man and the other man tells you that he’s not going to let him go if he doesn’t pay.
    If you’re innocent, this could actually be a real story, but, most likely it is not.
    I just keep getting surprised how people use so much creativity in these scams.

  14. Lately I’ve been getting repeated calls from India claiming to be Microsoft, calling about my “Windows Computer”. Which one? “Your Windows Computer”.

    I tell them to F Off and generally just lob insults at them. Usually we trade barbs for a minute and then they hang up. But I had one spend some time trying to prove that he was much smarter than I, but unfortunately had all the maturity and intellect of a 12 year old.

    One of the things he said was that he could usually fool old people, and one day I’ll be old and then he’ll get me.

    1. I got this one a little while back. After his spiel, I just said, “I don’t have a Windows computer.” The scammer said, “Oh, okay. Thank you,” and hung up. Honestly, I felt kind of bad for him. He sounded really tired.

  15. This was epic and so enjoyable to read. I work as a civilian at a pd and I do these reports all the time. The two things they all have in common is they always over pay and ask to send them leftover money by western union or money gram. The other thing is the grammar usually sucks at some point. Well played.

  16. That is the funniest conversation I’ve ever read–today, at least! I’m planning to sell a few things on our local community website and expect to be contacted by a scammer, or two. Instead of ignoring them, I think I’ll play along. Don’t worry, I’ll give them the local State Highway Patrol address to send their payment. And, all “actual real” transactions in our community happen in the Walmart parking lot in full view of about 150 interested bystanders, including the local PD. They’ll never get me!

  17. This is very cute, but one thing bothers me:
    You are poking fun at scammers while your blog has some sponsored ads that are scams.
    I think you should get rid of some of the PPC and CPA ads are posted on your website. Otherwise, some of your less skepchickal readers will click, get ripped off, and you will earn money from it.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close