Monday, June 29, 2009

A Public Service

So...the wife and I nearly got scammed on Craigslist, and I wanted to put this out on the internet so that people could maybe search and find it.

It started because we, in an effort to pare down, are trying to sell our exercise machine. It cost us a few hundred bucks, so we're trying to sell it for about that. You can imagine how excited we were to get the following email:
"Hello, I saw your posting and i seems to have found what i am looking for, I
will be purchasing this from you if its still available for sale, kindly let me
know ASAP.regards."

Sure, the guy's English is bad, but he seems to pretty assuredly want it. Right on! I wrote him back to tell him we'd be home all day Sunday so he could come back and pick it up whenever suited him. This was his response:

"Thank for the prompt response my secretary will process and mail
acertified draft to cover the cost as am completely satisfied with it.I
will need the details of whom & where to mail the payment

1.Name to be on the check

2.Home address

3.Mobile #

Please note 'United Parcel Service' do not deliver to P.O.Boxaddresses and i will not be mailing a draft to one. My mover will becoming over for the pick up right only after the payment as beendelivered and cleared. Kindly delete the posting as am totallycommitted to buyingfrom you to save cost,.. Here is my relay phone # is (210) 209-8524drop message, i will receive your phone messages via email, regards."

Hmm. This is definitely a little off-putting. However, I was still pretty stoked to unload the exercise machine. I didn't really want to send him my address, but I figured he was going to need it if his "mover" was going to come pick it up, so I sent it to him and awaited a response. Please note that Craigslist advises you never to accept checks or money orders in that they can usually be faked pretty easily, so I should have called it off right here, but I suspended my disbelief in the hopes of paring down.

Nevertheless, the guy could have probably gotten me pretty easily had he not gotten too greedy in his next email:
"I since receive the confirmation from my Secretary,that the paymentas been
issued out and was mailed by the United Parcel Service. itwill be
delivered to your address one business day from now accordingto the courier ,but
to my greatest surprise the draft was issued outfor the sum of $2425 instead of
the actual cost of my purchase .Sheclaimed that i requested for that amount to
be issued out to you butam very sure i only made a request for just the cost of
mypurchase.This is a terrible mistake and i was just informed about thisso
please once the check is delivered please take it to your Bank andhave it
cashed .

You will then deduct the cost of my purchase plus an extra $100
tooffset the cost of your run around expenses.The rest of the fundshould be sent
to my mover via western union the same day youreceive the payment so that
my mover can make the trip over for thepick up at once.

**I will need you immediate response via email assuring me that i
cantrust you to handle this with utmost care and have the remaining
fundreturned appropriately as requested and will hope that your
intentionsremains noble though out the duration of this transaction**"

Sounds pretty sweet right? Not only do I get to sell my machine, but I get an extra hundred bucks for my trouble?

As you can imagine, the alarms were really going off at this point in my head, so I headed over to the Craigslist scams page, where I was informed not to accept checks, avoid doing business through the mail, and to NEVER use Western Union, all of which he had advised me to do. So I wrote him back and told him that I would mail his check back to him, and, if he still really wanted it, he could have his "mover" come and pay me in cash.

Lessons learned:
1) When seling on Craigslist, beware of things that seem too good to be true.
2) If the language the prospective buyer is writing in sounds the same as a spam email, it's probably not reputable.
3) If the buyer doesn't even mention the item by name in the body of his emails, it's probably some sort of form letter used to scam lots of people.

In retrospect, I should have caught on earlier, but I really wanted to get rid of the darn thing. Also, I left his phone number in this post in case anybody googles it, and here's his email address and the name on his email: and jeff sandsnow (it is uncapitalized).

This is a different sort of post than I usually do, but I hope it proves useful for someone.


Buttercup said...

Whoa. Good to know!

Mama V said...

My oh my. That's a crazy one. Glad you caught on and didn't follow through! Did yu keeo your ad up no Craigslist? BTW, what would the scammer actually gained from this? The bank obviously wouldn't have cashed the check, right?

I still remember the first time I received that e-mail from an African millionaire needing my help... I was so certain it was legitimate and that I was potentially going to come into a lot of momney if I helped him out!!!

Analyst Catalyst said...

I felt the same way about that African millionaire. :)

Apparently, because money orders are so easy to forge, banks will take them, but then, once it is found to be a fake, the bank holds you responsible for it. So, not only would I lose the difference between the money order and what I sent via Western Union (about $2000), I would then have to pay the bank back the whole money order amount ($2425). Losing about $4500 is not a good way to spend a summer!

Caroline said...

I got the same emails!!! I was super suspicious and wouldn't have western unioned him, but after I saw your post I knew for sure it was a scam. Thanks for confirming my suspicions!!!

Analyst Catalyst said...

Caroline: I'm glad that I was able to help, and I'm especially glad you didn't get scammed.

Joseph said...

You saved me too. I got the email about 2 hours after I listed the items (from, gotten wise and removed the 001 I suppose). At first thought, I was excited, but something kept tugging at me to quickly google the name to see if there was any business info on this person. Your post came right up. So for that I thank you. I would have wasted alot of time with this piece of scum. Man, if only people would put all of their energy into being a productive member of society instead of trying to make a quick dollar, we would all be better off. Again, thanks for your post and hope this finds you well.

funky5 said...

This scammer also uses the email address of Thanks for sharing the information you have. Thankfully, you didn't get taken.

Anonymous said...

Wow you just saved me! I just received an email from this guy, and I felt a little uneasy so I googled his name and came across your posting thank you so much!!

Stacey said...

Thanks so much for posting this on your blog. We got the same email about some furniture we were selling and decided to google the name. Your blog came up and has now saved us the hassle. Thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

I googled the name jeff sandsnow when i got ait on my kayak for $650 that he wanted without even seeing it. Again, his secretary would send me a check. I replied cash cash or paypal only. No reply. the email he used was Big scammer. Anyone want a nice kayak?

Amalia said...

what do you know?!! I put a bowflex on craigslist and "jeff sandsnow" emailed me so i googled his name, along with the word craigslist and found your blog.. I dont even think its a human?

Jon said...

Thank you for posting this...i was checking after reading the suspicious emails. Did the guy in any of these cases attempt to continue the conversation beyond stating that you would destroy the check?