Is this a scam?

I’m selling an appliance via Craigslist and one of the responses wishes to follow this protocol.

  1. I give my contract information.
  2. They send a check.
  3. We wait till the clears the bank.
  4. He/She sends a mover to pick it up.

I’m insisting COD, in the meanwhile. But what are the pitfalls, if any, with the above?

The scam comes when the check comes back, days after the appliance has been taken. By using obscure banks at the tail end of the Fed’s chain and doing things like changing the routing number and account number, days and days can be added to check return processing.

ETA: Or the check will be fraudulently issued but not caught by the account owner for some number of days.

Make them send a postal money order, and offer to pay for it via discount. ($1-2.) If you have the slightest remaining suspicion, take it to your local post office and ask them to validate it. (I don’t think POs cash money orders over some small amount, but I could be wrong.)

ETA2: If they balk at any reasonable payment request, tell them no thanks and sell to someone else. NO legitimate buyer, even one with peculiar financial or shipping needs - maybe especially those - should hesitate to go an extra step to satisfy you their payment is valid.

ETA3: I need to finish writing before hitting Post… any time a buyer has a complicated purchase request like this, it’s very likely fishy on some level. Most people don’t want you to leave the item in a hollow oak tree, knock three times and then go dig up your payment from an unmarked grave… and have that all written out for you in advance.

The check will include extra $$ that gets refunded or passed to the driver -

The check will bounce much later than expected - it takes time for some of these things to bounce compared to the ‘cleared’ time the bank may tell you

This is almost always a scam.

Well, strike three. Spoke to someone else. He pretty much said the same thing.

Thanks for the quick responses, y’all have my sincere thanks.

Really, really belated ETA: and NEVER accept a check for more than the asking price and send them a refund amount… that’s a common scam-on-scam technique, and for some reason it makes people feel better about the bogus payment and lower their guard. And then end up out $20, $50, $100 or more on top of whatever the base scam cost them.

Of course this is exactly what Paypal was set up for. Unfortunately they have been scammed so many times that a lot of us don’t trust them either.

Can anyone suggest a fool and scam proof way of completing a transaction at a distance, cheaply, (ie not involving lawyers) where the two parties don’t know each other? And neither has a reputation to keep.

PayPal is pretty good if you observe a few precautions.

As for payment, ask for a postal money order or one from a bank; when you receive it, take it to the PO for validation or call the bank (look up their number, don’t use one provided even if it’s printed on the check) and verify it. Then deposit it and wait 5 full business days for it to clear or come back. Then ship.

As for getting a purchased item… I don’t know a reliable way besides things like eBay ratings, which are a shadow of what they used to be.

To prevent banks from using the float time to their benefit, making money off of your money while holding the funds, regulations have been tighten and the time it takes to “clear” a check shortened.

A check that has been cleared has not necessarily been validated as good. Scammers use this time, the time between when the bank must clear the check, and the time until the check is discovered as NSF.

The product you are selling has been taken by the scammers, the bank comes back and tells you that the check is no good. You are responsible for the funds and your sales item is gone.

To say again, just because a check has cleared does not mean that the check was good. You can end up spending money that doesn’t exist. And you have lost whatever it was that you sold.

I just Googled the email address. Turns out it’s a scam.

I noted the time the email was sent was early in the morning. That told me it wasn’t local. If I accept the current conditions, they’re suppose to send somebody out to pick it up (Mugsy? Guido?), which tells me this is an international operation.

I’m tempted to play circle jerk with the person. Or am I better off just calling the cops? Or, responding to the scamster with the above link?

For sellers: cash, in the mail, with regular domestic insurance for amounts up to $5000, or Registered Mail for amounts up to $25,000.

For buyers, I’m not sure. A video of the seller packing and shipping the item?

Call the cops. It might be tempting to jerk him around, but remember-your email and address isn’t fake.

Here is a link to an LA Times article that backs up what I posted. See also the Check 21 Act if you want to read some boring shit. Among other things, this act did away with the need to send the actual paper checks back to the bank of origin, so most check are now cleared electronically by the cashing bank. Which is a great deal of progress. But scammers take advantage of every new change in the law and the requirement to clear checks in 1 to 5 days gives them the time they need to take the money and run.

I haven’t given out my address. Only my email. But I suppose one could lead to the other.

Cops it is, then.

I have a feeling nobody would ever come out. They would probably just send a check for more than the amount and somehow get the cash from that (have you pay the shipping with the extra money or something. What are you selling (if you don’t mind me asking)?

Postal money order and walmart money order counterfeiting are alive and well also.

Best way, use the way the scammers ask for you to send money, moneygram or western union. Bitcoins may be an option too if you don’t mind jumping through a few hoops.

I believe PMOs can be validated at any post office counter. That doesn’t protect against stolen ones that haven’t been reported, but it should catch everything else - out and out fakes, bulk-stolen ones, false or changed serial numbers, changed amounts.

Outdoor grill.

I found this. The site suggests this is about reporting a crime, not a potential for one. Should fill it out?

And for others concerning Mr. Scamster, a little Google-fu

I did screw up in one area; he didn’t ask for me to respond to the Craig’s List reply address, but my email address…:smack:

But that’s my spam address for suspect offers. :smiley:

All three options would be a waste of your time. Forget it and move on.

Yes, Western Union or Moneygram.

Many people recoil in horror at the mention of either of these because they have heard that all the scammers use them. And if you are the buyer, you should be wary of them. But as a seller, you should welcome anyone trying to send you money with these services. The reason scammers use them is because the buyer can’t get their money back, which is exactly what you want as a seller.

On the other hand, if you were willing to send a check to the seller and had no plans to stop payment before they cashed the check or pull some other sort of scam, then why not use WU or MG?

Not yet, you haven’t. But the movers are gonna need to know where to pick up the appliance from.