Scam artist working fraud on craigslist

Posted by on March 4th, 2012  •  2 responses  •  Full Article

I had a close call with a scam artist on Craiglist.

Canon 50D for sale

Canon 50D for sale

I’m going to post in the email exchange for your dining entertainment. I had listed my Canon 50D, body only, for sale for $670. I am new to, and made all the classic mistakes. However, the one thing I did right was to check directly with PayPal, instead of trusting that I had a live one on the line. The Nigeria address was my first clue that a craiglist scam artist was at work.

Here is the email trail, her letters to me are in blue:

Monica Smith;; via
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

Hi Seller,It good to come across your item and i have interest on purchase

Mark Webster
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Monica:
Sure, give me a call at 253-123-4578.
thanks for your interest,
I appreciate the prompt response to my inquiry,am much satisfied with
the condition and price of the item and i would like to make an out
right purchase immediately so i will advice that you withdraw the
advert from the web because I’m ready to purchase it and my form of
payment will be by paying you through pay pal email account,and i will
add shipping fee,was the item in good condition or is there any
– Monika

To Monika:

There are two minor spots where the paint has worn off. Did you click the link in the ad to see the detailed photos? I will pull the ad when I see the funds in Paypal. Send Paypal funds to (email address) . I will ship to your address. Please add shipping cost.
– Mark
to Mark:

i will process with the payment shortly and i will get back to you as
soon as the funds is transfer..

– Monica
Email Title:
Payment Made::::::::::::Re: Canon 50D body only – $670

On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 7:41 PM, Monica Smith <> wrote:
Hi Mate,
Am glad to get back to you in regards to the payment for the
item,this is to inform you that i had made the payment via paypal and
your money has been deducted from my account, which i believe you
will be contacted shortly.Moreover,i included the shipping cost of the
item to the payment. As soon as you received the payment confirmation
i want you to get the item shipped and make sure the item is shipped
via POST OFFICE, USPS Global Express Mail(EMS).My Son’s address
information is here below…..So here is my Son’s shipping address

Name :Michael O
Address : No 30 Olanipekun Str,Ososami road,
City : Ibadan,
State : Oyo- State,
Country : Nigeria,
Zip Code : 23402.

That’s is the shipping address and i want you to get back to me as
soon as you shipped out the item…

Thanks for the concept of the business.
– Monika

Email title:© Payment Confirmation from PayPal


This message is originated from PayPal regarding the payment of $820.00 USD which our Verified Buyer Monica Smith made into your account.The payment has been approved and confirmed by our accounting department.All necessary protocols has been cross checked through his account and found legit.We urge you to get the item mailed out to the provisional address and do get back to us with the shipment tracking number for proof of postage and quick accreditation of your funds into your account.

Thanks for using PayPal.
PayPal accounting department

Email title:© About Your Fund : PayPal Safety Measures Agains Online Fraud

Protect Yourself From Fake Emails
PayPal is your partner against fraudulent emails.
Learn how to identify and avoid fraudulent—or spoof—emails and websites in PayPal’s Identity Theft Protection Resource area.

Dear ,

We have received an order from one of our customer to make an instant payment of $820.00 USD to your PayPal account. The payment has been made successfully and the money has been credited to your PayPal account but you will not have access to it. However, since this money is meant for a purchase or a service that involve a Shipping Company.We have to receive a confirmation that you have shipped the Canon 50D body only before the money will be available for spending. This is due to the large increase in the rate of the online scams recorded last year (2010). We have changed some of our rules and regulation to make sure our clients, are safe from scam, PayPal in conjunction with The FBI and The IFCC has invented certain preventive measure to ensure the safety of our customers.

Such measure are:

1. Once a payment is made, A confirmation Email will be sent to the seller that the payment has been made to state the transaction details which has been sent to you. Also a confirmation is sent to the buyer that the money has been deducted from his or her account. So once you get this mail,You should take necessary action and get back to us with the confirmation that you have sent Canon 50D body only. Once we have confirmed the information provided with the shipping company, the money will be available instantly.

2. Once a payment is made and it has been approved by PayPal, such transaction is Sealed (because both seller and buyer must have come to a conclusion before payment is made by the buyer) so therefore neither the buyer or seller can cancel this transaction or ask for the returned to the buyer’s account. Also, this is where we generate our income, because the more transaction made through PayPal, the more we generate our Income.

3. Failure to abide by these laid down safety measures by PayPal may leads to suspension from PayPal and further more invitation to an interrogation with the F.B.I

So can you see we are very considerate about the safety of both buyer and seller.

Note: The shipment tracking number most be provide.

Thank you for using PayPal!

Help Center – Contact Us

Help by Email

Our Customer Service team is specially trained to address all account inquiries. Send us an email and
we will reply promptly. Contact Customer Service


Mark Webster
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Monica:
I’ve not seen the money in my account. Also, I just checked shipping
costs and it will cost $320 to ship to Nigeria. I’m sorry, I don’t
trust you.

I’m going to change the add so that it reads, local sale only. I want
to meet my buyer face to face, I will not ship.

Thanks for your interest.
– Mark
Monica Smith
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Mark:
what do you mean after i made the payment and the funds has been
deducted from my pay pal account and you are tell all this…i will
mail pay pal now..


Mark Webster
Mar 1 (2 days ago)

to Monica:
I don’t see the money in Paypal. If it does show up, I will have them
send it back to you. Frankly, I think you are running some kind of a

If you are honest, you will get your money back. Did you send it to
the correct address?
– Mark

Lessons Learned:

Never ship at craigslist. Always deal face to face in a safe public place, like a starbucks, and accept only cash. Bring a friend with you for safety. If you see misspelled words in your email responses, this is a clue that you may be working with a scam artist. If they won’t call you, and prefer email…another clue.

If you got this far, you will understand that I am exaggerating a little for poetic effect in the following paragraph. YMMV [Your mileage may vary]  🙂

If craigslist customers come to your house, and this is sometimes unavoidable…it might be wise to invite Uncle Vern and a couple of his hunting buddies over. Have them clean their bear hunting bows on the kitchen table.

“Oh, yeah, this is my Uncle Vern…don’t worry about him, he’s harmless…so, did you want to look at the sofa?”