Craigslist, like fire, can either serve or destroy. Probably the most successful Craigslist users are those in search of something; it seems like most scams prey on those offering a product or service. This has been my experience. Some months ago I put an item for sale--let's call it a Gadget--on Craigslist. I got one phone call the first week, then nothing. My listing rapidly dropped to the bottom of the page and it was unlikely that I would hear from any more prospective customers. Then, after a couple weeks of silence, a steady trickle of emails started appearing in my inbox. They all had the same features:
1. Subject line--it was lifted directly from the listing. Gadget - $250 (Pokeyville)
2. Sender's email--always a gmail account with a made-up-looking prefix like jffbo42p or pdly6doo.
3. Text--always something vague, never mentioning the item or the price, such as:
"Do you still have it available for sale?"
After I respond, the second email is equally programmed but still vague as to any details. It goes something like this:
Glad you still have it! Hope it's in good condition like you have stated in the post, I want you to remove the craigslist advert and consider it sold to me. The price is fine. I would have love to come pick it up and pay you cash but am out of town. I don't want to miss out of this deal so am willing to cut you a certified check as payment. I'll have a pickup agent come to your location after you've cashed the check. I need the following information:
Full Name:Okay, by now alarm bells should be going off. The prospective buyer has provided nothing but randomly generated information (sometimes even using a different gmail address for the second response), but wants to know way more information on me than I will ever give out to a random person. My second email always says, "Sorry, cash only," and that ends the conversation.
Last Asking Price:
I need all this right now so that I can forward it to my secretary to mail out the payment to you ASAP.
So, here are thing things to watch for:
1. An email address that doesn't carry any information you could use to identify the person
2. Nothing in the body of the email to specify the item you are selling
3. Urgency/willingness to pay extra/desire to use an agent on the part of the buyer
If you see these red flags, DON'T give out any information not already in the listing.